"This presents a thorny issue."
Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store
As a reader, Andrew Ives prefers reading the old “Victorian classics”: Dickens, Verne, H.G. Wells, and so on. You’ll notice some of these authored science fiction, which have since partially turned into science fact.
A dystopian thriller, set in Britain, in the not too distant future.
Ives wrote Psinapse in the late 1980s based on a future he pictured in twenty or thirty years. We’re rapidly approaching when the story takes place, if not already there. This presents a thorny issue. How a potential reader feels about this will make an immense difference in deciding if this is a book for them.
Before discussing that issue, let’s talk about the story. The main character is Karen Masterson, a recent college graduate with expertise in computer security. While this was a hot field when she started her training, the demand was much lower when she finished. With the high rate of unemployment in the dystopian society Ives’ imagined, Karen was lucky to get her job helping develop a leading edge defense system. Cancellation of the project sends Karen to the unemployment line. When some strange things happen related to her former employer and coworkers, Karen starts digging, and sets us off on the thriller part of the tale.
I mostly enjoyed the story. The futuristic technology and dystopian world Ives describes are imaginative and, with a few exceptions, worked well. However, it felt like too much of the book was extended narrative. Psinapse starts out with a good, dramatic scene to draw the reader in, followed by narrative explaining back-story. There is nothing wrong with this approach; however, the back-story, primarily concerning how technology had evolved up to that point, went too far, causing the story to drag. That the author had thought this out was a good thing. That the reader had to wade through it all, whether necessary to the story or not, wasn’t. For example, a long history of how computer technology had changed, allowing much more powerful computer chips to be built, wasn’t important to the story. Only that this change had happened.
The remainder of the book contains a fair amount of narrative. Some of this is filling in of back-story, some needed, and some maybe not. Some is because the characters, especially Karen, are often acting alone, so the storytelling is largely action or her thoughts. The latter, while technically “inner dialogue,” often reads the same as narrative. How a reader will react to that is more a matter of taste.
Which leaves us with the thorny issue. In his bio, the author talks about his love for the classics of science fiction: Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and such. Reading these authors today presents the reader with an envisioned future that is both futuristic and retro, when compared to our actual present. Psinapse has the same situation. Some of the technology as Ives pictured it in the late 1980s is still forward looking – imaginable from our current vantage point, but still in the future. Retina scanning for ATM security and computer/brain interfaces are two examples. Yet other technology has come and (mostly) gone – dialup internet access, for example.
The type of reader who enjoys reading classic science fiction, comparing the future those authors pictured to the reality of where we are today, is likely to enjoy Psinapse. Those things I see as negative, including detailed back-story, may well appeal to those same readers. For those readers who get jarred out of a story when it feels like they’re jumping between past, present, and future in the same scene, it may not.
Uses UK spelling conventions.
No significant issues.
Rating: *** Three stars