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Multiplex Man Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1994
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It's hard to say much without giving things away. I always find this book a fast read and the first time I read it I couldn't put it down. If you enjoy Hogan's style, don't miss this book.
(What if you were a writer _telling the story_ of someone in that situation? How would you organize it?)
If you're the protagonist in this fascinating SF novel, you're probably in for some interesting experiences. But will you get to keep them?
(If you're James P. Hogan, you tell the story in chunks, cycling through the various nonoverlapping personalities and telling the parts of the tale for which each is "present," as it were.)
Who do you turn out to be? Are you one person or several? Which hero saves the day, and which hero _gets_ saved? Are they the same person? Are you sure?
Hogan is in fine narrative form here. I've seen his writing described as "textbook-dry," but that's not likely to dissuade those of us who regard, say, Kernighan and Ritchie's _The C Programming Language_ as the pinnacle of expository prose style. Hogan writes like a _good_ engineer; his prose does the job he wants it to do, and the meat is in the story. (You don't need mannered digressions about the splendid colors of the autumn leaves in a book whose theme is that the universe isn't what you think it is.)
In fact this is a fun book, full of Hogan's trademark mind-blowing coolness. The underlying technology is rendered plausible and the story is interesting from beginning to end. Even if you know what must be going on -- and you will, by midway through the second chapter, even if you hadn't figured it out from the title -- you'll still be kept guessing until the very end about (a) how and why it happened, and (b) how it will ultimately turn out.
Hogan is one of my two favorite living SF writers (the other is Spider Robinson, who doesn't write "hard" SF). If you like SF, you'll like him.
It started out a little slow, but once it got going, it seemed like it was going to be ok. Several times there were plot developments that made me think, this is really going to pick up now, but it never really did. Fairly early on in the story, I thought of something that I thought would have been an interesting twist for the end, but later events led me to discard it as a possibility. However, when I got to the end, what I had thought of did turn out to be the twist. Even though events in the story made it difficult. Which was made worse by an entire section of the book that tried to explain how the events unfolded without offering anything of value to the story. Add to this a protagonist who was completely discarded halfway through the story, an abrupt unsatisfying ending, and you get a pretty worthless book.
I wouldn't recommend this book. If you want to read something by Hogan, try Inherit the Stars instead.
Multiplex Man does have its moments of annoying polemics so frequent in Hogan's work. However, the incredible entertainment of this book easily makes reading it well worth while. Towards the end I couldn't put it down; the adventure was so exciting, the explanations so satisfying.
If you have difficulty finding this out-of-print book, a little Web searching can reward you with this gem.
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