Published by Pyr
Author Web site: www.davidlouisedelman.com
Imagine the brilliance of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in the personality of a rock star. Imagine this individual has charted maverick territory in the technological world, and that same world is waiting on baited breath for him to let it know when the next iteration of his technology will be released. Imagine this man has disappeared from the face of the earth. That’s where David Louis Edelman starts Geosynchron, with trilogy’s protagonist Natch as the Rock Star Steve Jobs imprisoned and possibly hallucinating a ghostly vision.
Geosynchron is a book that was very high on my 2010 anticipated reads list, I found Infoquake to be one of the most impressive SF debuts I’ve ever read and the sequel, MultiReal continued the trend and impressed me just as much. So, it was with this anticipation that I opened the first pages of the book and was immediately swept into Edelman’s intricately constructed future. Although Edelman provides a summary of the first two novels in the trilogy as an appendix, his fluid style and ability to draw the reader into the story helped to stir the memories of the two earlier books very well.
What is the story about? The MultiReal bio/logics software has been released and is the greatest innovation of the day, allowing users to map out the possibilities of their choices in order to derive the greatest solution. Because MultiReal is such a powerful thing, the entire world wants control of it the new version set to be released into the Data Stream.. From Natch, to his old childhood rival Brone, to the heirs and board members of the Surina family to the two conflicting factions of the Defense and Wellness Council which is erupting into a civil war with one side led by its head honcho Len Borda and the other by Magan Kai Lee, the de facto 2nd in command.
A powerful tool or advance like MultiReal isn’t without its drawbacks to the masses. Occasional infoquakes, disruptive charges of power that might be best described as a combination of an Earthquake and an Electromagnetic Pulse that rattles the virtual world and can kill many of the users logged into the virtual world. Potentially controlling the future and manipulating others to meet the outcome you desire is another.
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Edelman’s writing throughout the trilogy is how he straddles the line between plausible futuristic technology and a sense of history bordering on myth. Between the lost time preceding the era of the novel, and the legendary family of the Surinas, Edleman has informed his world with an authentic and seamless sense of history. When characters talk of the Surinas, it is with reverence. When Natch begins to see visions of the deceased Margaret Surina, the feeling Edleman elicits is revelatory, almost like an epiphany. It comes across both mysterious and profound, and ultimately effective.
While Natch is the protagonist and (anti)-hero of the trilogy, in Geosynchron, he is far from the main character. One character who really stood out in MultiReal and continues to shine in the finale is Jara, the head of the Surina/Natch MultiReal Fiefcorp having taken over Natch’s company in his absence. While she stole the show in the previous book, she still had quite a few unresolved issues in regards to Natch from the first volume. Her lover, Horvil, is also Natch’s closest friend and serves as another main character in the novel. Edelman brings another supporting character from the previous volumes into the spotlight in Geosyncrhon – Quell, the Island bodyguard of Margaret Surina. Edleman fleshes out Magan Kai Lee to a larger degree here as well, and it is a welcome addition. In total, Edleman does a great job in presenting a believable and enjoyable cast of characters together for the grand finale. Perhaps the only character to have an effect on the overall story not to be as fully fleshed out in Geosynchron is Len Borda, the overlord of the Defense and Wellnes Council.
While the interpersonal relationships are handled well, so are the larger conflicts affecting the world at large. After all, the pieces have been moved together to place the future of humanity at stake in Geosynchron. With Brone in nearly complete control of the next iteration of MultiReal – Possibilities 2.0 – in his grasp, a lot is at stake. An apocalyptic infoquake is the potential outcome of this release and the only person who can stop Brone is Natch. On the surface, this seems a rather convenient set up, but it is to Edelman’s credit that the logic behind this set up is handled so well. In fact, to have it any other way would probably be a disappointment and ineffective, blatant subversion. Brone and Natch are different sides of the same coin, both are selfish, both are brilliant, but Natch is more self-aware of his shortcomings and has had more bad things happen to him. At least later in life when we meet him in the trilogy – these bad things help to shake up his worldview and help him grow from a selfish character to a selfless character. On the other hand, the bad thing that happened to Brone – of which Natch is the cause – happened early in his life and likely shaped him and brought him to the very point at which he and Natch collide in Geosynchron.
One of the themes to come across is not repeating past mistakes. Though the novel is set in the far future, the specter of the past hangs over the heads of the prominent characters. Natch wants to forge a new identity for himself, and in part, wash away the bad things he’s done to get where he’s at in the story. The legacy of the Surina family has multiple implications for many people – the world and the technology that can shape the future, Quell, and the latest in the family line of Surinas. The recent past is a cloud that hangs over Magan Kai Lee – he doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes he feels Len Borda has committed.
The novel does have it all – tight and dramatic conflicts, engaging and organic thematic elements, the highest of high stakes, and solid characterization. The trilogy has these things too, but over the course of the trilogy and the world Edleman’s developed it becomes easier to appreciate what he’s done. I’ve remarked on the clarity of future vision in the Jump 225 Trilogy, what makes it work so well is how seamless it feels when reading the story. The characters don’t simply populate the world David has created, they are an essential and organic component of the world. The two elements work hand in hand to form a holistic and elegant storytelling experience.
If I were to do the old if you like “A” then you might like “B,” then I’d suggest that SyFy’s new series Caprica has some similar sensibilities to David’s great trilogy. The look of the show very much evokes some of the same futuristic hue and shine as does Edelman’s projected future. The intersection of business and technology, though more pronounced in Jump 225, could be a thematic cousin in Caprica.
At this early stage in the year, Geosynchron is at the top of my best reads list – it has set the bar very high for anything else I’ll be reading this year. The Jump 225 Trilogy is a must read, an instant classic, and a work of SF that will help define this first decade of the 21st Century and could cast a long shadow for many years to come.
© 2010 Rob H. Bedford