Saturday, January 12, 2008

BOOK: Roo'd

I've been into "free" fiction lately. Usually stories published under a Creative Commons license. Most recently, I downloaded a copy of Roo'd, from Joshua Klein. And if Roo'd is Joshua's first book, I'm absolutely impressed!

It is a story about a young programmer (Fed) finding his path in a tech-rich world of immersing technology. After a prolonged absence, Fed re-establishes contact with his older brother, and finds himself wrapped up in a tangle of hackers, under ground technology, radical body modifications, and world-spanning mafias. The rabbit hole keeps getting deeper and Fed, along with his brother and a motley cadre of cohorts, find themselves slipping further and further into it.

Joshua's pacing of the story is fantastic. It rarely slowed and he quickly dragged me into the story. I didn't want to put it down. I kept wanting to read what happened next. The locations and situations were equally fascinating. And I was completely smitten with the technology and its adoption by society. Best of all, very little of the tale lurked beyond our horizon. It wasn't far fetched or unreasonable.

I liked the idea of radical body modding. I wanted more of it. Especially from Fed's brother. And even more details about the mod fighters.

I liked the communication-based technologies. Fed's chording. Cessus' glasses.

I liked Cessus' ideas concerning cognitive abilities and the training he gave Fed. I was very glad to see the story didn't become a cyber version of Fear And Loathing, dripping in futuristic drugs and booze.

Joshua has a knack for fleshing out his characters, but I didn't think he treated them all equally. Some of the primary characters felt under-created. Felt flimsy. I thought they all had enormous potential, but some didn't have enough time in the limelight. However, perhaps the lack of depth helped speed the pace. And slowing the tale would have diminished my enjoyment of it.

I did think there was a glaring plot hole about 2/3rds the way through. The store reaches critical mass and the characters have to recover some missing data. Perhaps I missed something, but I thought the data should NOT have gone missing because of the precautions Fed and crew took. It's just a technical quip, and I'm going to write Joshua to get his input.

Other than my lone complaint, I was thoroughly enthralled with the novel. It is a shame it was not picked up by a publisher. I think it would make a much better contribution to the scifi genre than many other books I've read in recent years.

Joshua, give us more one day!
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