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Multireal: The Jump 225 Trilogy, Book 2
David Louis Edelman
Pyr, 525 pages

Multireal
David Louis Edelman
David Louis Edelman was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1971 and grew up in Orange County, California. He received a B.A. in creative writing and journalism from The Johns Hopkins University in 1993. Over the past ten years, Mr. Edelman has programmed websites for the U.S. Army and the FBI, taught software to the U.S. Congress and the World Bank, written articles for the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, and directed the marketing departments of biometric and e-commerce companies. He lives with his wife Victoria near Washington, DC.

David Louis Edelman Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Multireal

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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Ambition does not always equal greatness. There is no doubt that David Louis Edelman's Multireal, the second volume in the Jump 225 trilogy is an ambitious volume in an ambitious series. Edelman evokes the presence and scope of several of the classic SF novels of the last fifty years, but whether the series will live up to the ambitions of its author remains to be seen. If Multireal is any indication, it's not quite there.

Multireal takes place several hundred years in the future. There has been an historical disconnect between our time and theirs. An assumption of power by artificial intelligences and subsequent revolt led to a major catastrophe, the recovery from which has resulted in a new set of political and social institutions. Gone are the nation-states and the structures that supported them, in their place are contracts for services with local governments, and a governing body known as the Defense and Wellness Council. There are also guild-like organizations known as Creeds, built around the social philosophies of their founding members. What does remain in place is a cut-throat business environment, where corporate-like entities compete in what has become the world's dominant marketplace, the selling of biological software intended to enhance the abilities of human beings.

That's where the term multireal comes in. Multireal, the software, is a program that expands human consciousness to the point where the user becomes aware of, and can choose from, all the possible consequences of a particular act. Think of a baseball hitter, who, as a pitch is delivered, can choose among all the variations of how to swing or not to swing and choose the one with the most desired outcome. Two other things are immediately apparent, the situation gets a lot more complicated if the pitcher is also equipped with multireal, and that such an ability would be useful in a lot more areas of human activity than sports. The main story of Multireal thus becomes a struggle for control of the technology between the individual entrepreneurs who developed it, and the established powers who wish to control and limit its use.

That's where the problems with the novel come in. While the themes of human capabilities replacing artificial intelligences and the struggle between corporate and political power and life on the streets recall such classic SF novels as Dune and Neuromancer, the individual characters ares imply not real or interesting enough to make the reader care about what happens to them. The historical background and high-tech conflict may draw comparison to the classics, but there are no characters as memorable as Jessica or the baron Harkonnen here, no Molly or Case. And when a character starts philosophizing about the positive aspects of selfishness and greed, Multireal reads a lot less like Neuromancer or Dune and a lot more like a non-SF novel, Atlas Shrugged, a book that may function well as an economic polemic, but is almost unreadable as a work of fiction.

Multireal is better than that. The complicated history, detailed world-building and action scenes will probably be enough to hold the attention of most readers, but can't make up totally for the thin characterizations. That's too bad, because the potential was here for much more. In one sense, Multireal is a classic SF novel in that it conforms to the field's reputation as being focused on idea over character. That, however, is a problem that many other writers, including Frank Herbert and William Gibson overcame long ago. By invoking the style and method of those writers classic works but failing to live up to the literary standards they also contained, Multireal is fated to be one of those works slotted directly into the mid-range of science fiction excellence, interesting but not compelling, good but not great.

Copyright © 2009 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson is happy to add the Jump 225 trilogy to his list of fictional futures where baseball, as it should be, is still played and enjoyed. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.


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