Philip K. Dick meets William Gibson.
In the year 2040, the world has finally achieved the perfect merging of human and machine by developing a method by which the computer has direct integration into the brain. Called Personal Ocular Devices, or PODS, the interface fits over the eye feeding information directly along the optic nerve into the brain, allowing minds and computers to become one.
But not for Rebecca Mines, who has been held in solitary confinement for the last 20 years. Arrested under the 2002 Patriot Act as a cyber-terrorist for unleashing a program called Velvet Dogma, her parole restricts access to all computers and all but the simplest of machines. Although the government is still fearful that she'll resume her previous profession, Rebecca wants nothing more than to find a place to exist in peace. She has a life to live, and 20 years of personal stagnation from which to recover.
But she discovers that things have changed dramatically since she's been in prison. Not only is organ theft sanctioned, but all of her organs have already been levied to the highest bidder. No sooner does she promise the judge that she'll be a law-abiding citizen, then she finds herself on the run from not only Chinese Black Hearts, eager to confiscate her organs, but the authorities, who realize that they've let her out too soon.
©2011 Weston Ochse (P)2011 David N. Wilson
"Weston Ochse is one of the best authors of our generation." (Brian Keene, author of Ghoul and The Rising)
"Weston Ochse is a mercurial writer, one of those depressingly talented people who are good at whatever they turn their hand to." (Conrad Williams, August Derleth and International Horror Guild Award Winner)
"Weston Ochse is perhaps the fiercest and most direct of the latest generation of dark fiction writers." (Rocky Wood, author of Stephen King: A Literary Companion)
The basic premise revolves around the release from prison of a woman who had been put away for 20 years for computer hacking. What she emerges into is a nightmare incarnation of her worst fears. This is dystopic vision of the future; but sadly, the dystopia simply does not work. The result is an overly ambitious attempt that simply becomes over the top in terms of inconsistencies.
Throughout there are simply too many things that don't make sense. Prison life is going to result in the healthiest organs, really? Someone invents antigravity for the sole purpose of creating mobile servers to escape detection, really? There's antigravity, but we're still transplanting organs, really? Wealthy corporations maintain standing armies to hunt down transplant victims, really? People rebel by intentionally infecting themselves with leprosy, including their children, really? Computer geeks develop ritualistic quasi-religions, really? High tech, enormously expensive nursing homes maintain pre-thawed organs at the ready (just what I'm looking for: an 85 year old kidney), really?
Even if all this seems plausible, we are still presented with our heroine who developed the program that put her in prison, but it's still out there doing its thing after 20 years. No one has been able to find it, seriously. And its thing is to just collect data. This is the ultimate macguffin. Somehow after 20 years of this dystopic world, the "data" this program has collected will open people's eyes to the truth (as if they need computer output to see the world around them). And for all these years everyone's been waiting for this woman to reveal the code word to release this kraken of a data deluge. Encryption specialists must have been eliminated early on.
Rebecca's nemesis is also guilty of pure stupidity since she could have had her prey multiple times, but dragged things out until she manages to escape. The final denouement is unsatisfying. Towards the end, I was rooting for the transplanters to win.
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