In Jim Munroe's near-future novel Everyone in Silico
, San Francisco has been destroyed by an earthquake and replaced by the virtual city of Frisco. Nearly everyone on earth wants to move to this fashionable cyberworld. This is no surprise. The physical world has become a sort of virtual reality: no one has privacy, and everyone is monitored by the corporations. Everyone is both consumer and salesperson, earning money by shilling cigarettes or software to strangers and friends. Why not abandon the flesh for the everlasting cyberspace of Frisco?
Still, not everyone seeks to leave the "meat" world. A genetic-engineering artist known as Nicky creates rat-dog splices to sell to naive tourists and resists her mother's pleas to live in Frisco. Professional adman Doug Patterson watches his city, job, and marriage start to crumble as his coworkers and neighbors move online. When she loses her 12-year-old grandson to Frisco, Eileen Ellis dons her old military bodysuit and becomes, once again, a deadly supersoldier--but this time, she serves no corporate master. And Paul, mysterious soul in the cybermachine, seeks to orchestrate a new destiny for the human race.
Everyone in Silico is the third novel by Jim Munroe, the former managing editor of radical anti-advertising magazine Adbusters. As a book, Everyone in Silico is rather wobbly. The pace is unvarying, the dialogue is sometimes slack, and the climax is diffuse. But like Steve Aylett and Paul Di Filippo, his fellow science-fiction satirists at publisher Four Walls Eight Windows, Monroe is unorthodox, off-kilter, and interesting. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Canadian author Munroe's third novel (after Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gas Mask and Angry Young Spaceman), set in Vancouver, offers a fresh and amusing take on how technology can be used or misused in a consumption-obsessed society. In 2036, a new technology called Self is available to download individual consciousnesses into a shared digital existence where anything is possible for a price. As most people abandon this polluted, intractable world, a few holdouts try to help recreate nature. Those who resist the allure also try to find out what's happening to the "meat" bodies of the multitude who've opted for Self. The narrative switches focus among a small cast of more or less wary holdouts, and Munroe exuberantly studs the action with grotesque extrapolations of politics and advertising that most people accept unthinkingly. Stolen clothing doesn't just set off an alarm, for example; it bursts into flame and kills the shoplifter. Such images prompt a chuckle but also make us wince because they're so close to what we accept. At the same time, the novel allows that Self could be a place to begin escaping familiar, strangling limitations. Munroe balances the danger and the hope waiting in our future. His characters are so stuck in their preconceptions that they have trouble seeing new choices; maybe readers can do better. Those who value deft, witty SF should be well pleased.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.