Looking Glass

By James R Strickland

Looking GlassLooking Glass : This book is set in the not too distant future, in a gritty, unrefined, shattered North America. Hackers and IT security technicians fight a different kind of war in cyberspace. A serial killer has found a way to use the network to reach inside his victims brains, and use these brains as his weapon. Shroud is a security network team leader for a large retail company. In the realm of cyberspace, inside a sensory deprivation tank and jacked in to the network, she is fast, nimble, and ruthless. She is just beginning her shift when the killer strikes for the first time. She survives, but her entire team is dead or missing. She is exiled from her corporate resources, and her search for the killer is fraught with peril and overwhelming odds.

As a fan and reader of the cyberpunk genre, I strongly recommend Looking Glass. I won’t go into a plot synopsis, as others already have. The writing style is tight, and focused through the window of Shroud’s perception and life experiences, and her shift into an increasingly uncomfortable and dangerous situation, both mentally and physically. It is this revelation of her inner life, with its defensive limitations and powerful motivations that keeps the focus on the human, despite the seeming technological focus of the plot.

The dystopic setting of the splintered second world North America is revealed as is needed by the narrative. The technology is speculative, but much more soundly grounded in current technologies that give a sense of competence to the characters actions, and satisfaction to the reader familiar with the topics.

In the end, to me, Science Fiction is a human story. It asks what will we do, what will we become, when technology has changed our society, our horizons, our bodies and challanged the limits of what is possible. Looking Glass does this, with a good touch for personal tension, evolving character awareness, and human weakness.

The plot is well thought-out, and the pacing is fast without being frenetic. There’s little, if any, plot telegraphing or foreshadowing. The setting is future, yet the reference points are tantalizingly close to our present – again, enough to keep me invested (Shame about Reno, though). And while “cyberpunk” applies in general genre terms, the author isn’t trying to be William Gibson or anyone else, which is a refreshing change! But if you like that style, then you’ll definitely want to give this book a try.

One day, one of those hackers turns out to be a serial killer, and uses the fact that people are jacked in to the Internet to use the Internet as a way to kill. Her corporation, Omni-Mart, in standard shortsighted corporate cover-up style, gets in the way of her investigation, while the killer pursues her every move in a world that is so completely connected to the Net that movement without observation is just about impossible.

Dr. Farro, or “Shroud” as she is known, is one of the most dynamic characters in fiction. She wrestles with inner demons as well as the muck that is the Internet of tomorrow. She doesn’t necessarily deal with these demons very well. In a job that requires a certain level of paranoid schizophrenia to perform well, she is good at her work.

However, when the reader gets inside her head, we knew that this perfect employee of the future is far from a perfect human being, a metaphor, I think, for the future shock and information overload that we experience every day. Strickland shows us that all the great technology that makes our civilization work so well may not be good for our mental health. It’s a powerful message, yet there is no moralizing that gets in the way of a truly exciting thriller.

All in all, it was a great read, and I’ll be back for the next installment.

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My Book of Life – A Companion Piece

By Oluwadahunsi

My Book of LifeMy Book of Life, a Companion Piece: Letter To Maya Angelou : Letter to Maya Angelou is a book that is intended to entice the reader’s attention and provoke them to delve into deep thought on environmental and society issues.

One hundred breath-taking, intimate photographs of nature scenes have been included in this book. Beautiful shots of flocks of birds just taking off in flight, enchanting forests, stunning autumn color and incredible sunsets were enough to make me a fan of the book.

The photos are accompanied with poetic verses, which, unfortunately, did not strike a cord in me. Honestly, I did not even understand many of the verses. Overall, though, it was clear that the author’s intent was to encourage openness to adventure, the opportunity for growth and participation in issues that matter. I really liked a few statements in particular, “Let your heart be your guide, and the brain a tool” and “It’s always a holiday when you love”.

Oluwadahusi is a man who has been juggling many hats for some time – from being a lawyer, author and poet, to the more rewarding efforts as a teacher and father. He warns his readers that “any apparent disorder in any of the text, lack of punctuation” was done with the intent to provoke the reader to fill in the blanks for themselves.

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Don’t Go Alone

By Margaret Lenois

Dont Go AloneDon’t Go Alone : This 284-page mystery thriller has twists and turns that will keep readers guessing right until the end. I was thinking about the book for days after I completed this review project. I knew it had to be read again from the moment I finished the last page.

Handsome, well-built Michael Bannagan is CEO and founder of a successful computer company – he’s also a womanizer. Unaccustomed to hardship or a messy life, Michael is having a difficult time with his cold and beautiful wife. He’s been caught cheating, again (but he’s not the only one), and she wants a divorce. Out of the blue, he finds he is arrested for a murder he did not commit. All the clues point to Michael and he knows he is being set up – but by whom, and by how many? Are they working together? And WHY?! After all, Michael has never done anything evil in his life.

Don’t Go Alone is a story of high-society – of limousines, kept wives and fancy homes. It is a story of passion and shame, of regrets and betrayal, mistakes and love… hate and revenge.

This is the third book by Margaret Lenois that I have had the pleasure of reviewing. She may very well be the next female author that we see on the best selling list!

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