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Everyone In Silico
Jim Munroe
Four Walls Eight Windows, 241 pages

Everyone In Silico
Jim Munroe
Jim Munroe was born in 1973. He has his roots in the 'zine and anarchist punk scenes. He was the managing editor for the award-winning Adbusters Magazine, and has lived in South Korea and Vancouver. Currently, he lives in Toronto's Kensington Market. He has finished his next novel, Angry Young Spaceman, about a guy who goes to another planet to teach English. He turned down an offer to go with HarperCollins Canada and it will be published by NoMediaKings.

Jim Munroe Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Everyone In Silico
SF Site Review: Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask
Four Walls Eight Windows

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

Novels set in Vancouver often get reviewed by our daily newspapers, but Jim Munroe's latest book may be the first ever to show up in the Business section of the Vancouver Sun. Munroe, a former editor of Adbusters magazine and fervent anti-corporate campaigner, used well-known brand names and slogans in his novel about consumerism gone mad -- then he invoiced the companies for his product placements.

That in-your-face publicity tactic is in keeping with the tone of Everyone in Silico, a story about the ultimate computer upgrade -- trading in your messy, organic life to be programmed into a gigantic mainframe utopia called Frisco, where you can live forever like a model in a glossy magazine ad.

Advertising executive Doug Patterson is under pressure to move himself and his family to Frisco -- after all, everybody who's anybody has already gone. But Doug is stalling, unwilling to admit even to his wife that he's too far in debt to afford a Platinum Package. Doug seems to have lost his edge, and now he's in danger of losing his job, his marriage and the social status he used to think was so important.

By contrast, renegade gene hacker, Nicky, is happy in her marginalized life selling ratdog splices to gullible tourists on Commercial Drive. But even she is worried by the changes around her as the richer classes flee reality by the thousands, leaving a half empty city to the underclasses -- and a few crazy rebels who want to repopulate the world with plants and animals.

As is usual in literary SF novels, the technology of Munroe's 2036 is nonsensical. Munro makes no attempt to explain how anything works (for example, how a human consciousness could be uploaded to a computer) and details such as the do-it-yourself genetics lab where Nicky cooks up a vegetarian panther overnight, are simply ridiculous.

I admit it -- I don't enjoy modern literary novels. I only finished Everyone in Silico because the characters are not completely alienated and angst-ridden, and there is some coherent story line. However, the risk of writing about the annoying, obtrusive world of consumerism and its shallow inhabitants is that the author will annoy the reader. Certainly, I got very tired of the product placements and the constant clubbing over my head that consumerism is bad -- OK, I got it already! Reading this book felt like being chained in front of commercial television without a remote control.

Mainstream readers will probably like this book better than SF fans, who may feel that The Space Merchants said it all decades ago without being so smugly clever.

Yes, it turns out that it's all an Evil Corporate Plot. And no, McDonalds, Exxon and Starbucks did not pay Munroe's invoices.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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