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Playback Effect Paperback – December 8, 2014
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"[R]iveting . . . [K]eep[s] the suspense level high and the tension as tight as a steel cable on a suspension bridge. . . . Dialogue, descriptions, and narrative are flawless . . . . [A] book that will linger in your thoughts long after you've stopped reading - and are likely to invade your dreams. I give it a resounding five stars." -- Awesome Indies
"If you enjoy a well-imagined thesis on the implications of future technology, or a nuanced exploration of human relationships, or just a gripping techno-thriller, then Playback Effect is well worth a look." -- Strange Charm
About the Author
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but moved every few years throughout her childhood and adolescence. After college in California, law school in Massachusetts, and a mercifully short stint in a large San Francisco law firm, she moved to Los Angeles. There she met her husband, who hates L.A. They eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University.
Wyle has been a voracious and compulsive reader as long as she can remember. She majored in English and American Literature major at Stanford University, which suited her, although she has in recent years developed some doubts about whether studying literature is, for most people, a good preparation for enjoying it. She has been reading science fiction for several decades, but also gobbles up character-driven mysteries and historical fiction, with the occasional foray into anything from chick lit to military history.
Wyle's authorial "voice" is thus the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of practicing appellate law. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
Wyle and her husband have two essentially-grown and wildly creative daughters, as well as a sweet but neurotic dog.
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Unless, of course, you've committed a crime, as Harold "Hal" Wakeman has been accused of doing. Authorities allege he planted a powerful bomb inside a fountain sculpture that he designed. The resulting explosion killed or injured dozens -- including his wife, Wynne.
When the couple discover a mental process that can make them forget their PTSD-like memories, they also discover that she can undergo the procedure - but he cannot. Intense recriminations ensue.
Wynne creates a wide spectrum of dreams and records them for sale, via the futuristic helmet technology that plays such a large part in this story. And the author is particularly good at describing the idyllic scenes Wynne conjures up:
'She was floating, floating in a golden, glowing place of perfect warmth, rocking, cradled.She had nothing to need, nothing to do; she could simply float, and wait, and be."
The supporting cast of characters complement the main protagonists very well, weaving texture into the book with their depth and complexity.
Arthur, Hannah, Tertius, Warden Heath, Dream Daemon -- all play their parts flawlessly as the mystery rolls inexorably toward its stunning conclusion.
In a world where vicarious gratification is bought and sold like apples in a supermarket, no experience seems out of bounds -- except, perhaps, the so-called "snuff product," in which a person's death is recorded and sold.
It's grim stuff to contemplate, but, like all good science fiction, it's uncomfortably close to plausibility -- and therefore all the more terrifying.
Five stars to Playback Effect. It's excellent dystopian fare.
Playback Effect by Karen Wyle takes the reader into a not too distant future where such a thing is possible. People are able to wear head gear that lets them relive moments of someone else’s life. They can also take their dreams, record them, and sell to others. The book does a great job of exploring the different possibilities of this technology from joy to its potential use in criminal justice.
The book opens with a horrific event on what seemed to be a rather mundane day for Wynne Cantrell and her husband Hal. She was waiting for him to join her at lunch and explosion rocks the area where she is waiting. She will survive, but is hurt in the blast with others hurt or killed around her. Hal is late, as usual, and misses the blast but a police officer, Author Kellic, will find a way to charge Hal for the attack. The reader will find out about Arthur’s connection to Wynne and how Hal will face a penalty that some could see as extremely cruel. The ruling he will face is that he will be implanted with the memories of those hurt during the explosion, and first is that of his wife.
Along with the police a crew of people come to get the eye witness recordings of what happened. A member of that crew is practically forced to record what a severely injured person remembers, and mistakenly records their death. This helps to show the dark side of this technology as people want to see and feel this recording. This becomes one of the minor plot points within the book.
The book also will explore what happens when those convicted of a crime witness the event through the eyes of those hurt. This is something Hal must live with as he gets implanted with his own wives feelings of the event, before things change for him. This will make him more understanding of who she is, but at same time other criminals start using the memories in another way.
What Playback Effect does is take several unique and complex minor, and major, plot points and threads them together so elegantly. The reader will follow the emotions that wrap around Wynne and Hal as well as the other events mentioned in the book. The key plot has a man using bombs as a way to kill a lot of people runs throughout the book.
The reader will get to find out what happens through all the threads that author Karen Wyle plants within the book. They will eventually tie together and give a great ending that will satisfy many readers in sci-fi and other genres. The fact of this book is that the plot lines are well serviced and none are left behind in this riveting, suspenseful and enjoyable book.