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Book Review: MultiReal by David Louis Edelman

* Genre: Science Fiction
* ISBN: 1591026474
* ISBN-13: 9781591026471
* Format: Paperback, 460pp
* Publisher: Pyr
* Pub. Date: July 2008

MultiReal is the sequel to the popular Infoquake. (my review) David Louis Edelman continues his tale of Natch and his fiefcorp, and their struggles to maintain control over the most powerful computer program ever to exist. When the story opens, Natch is on the run, having reneged on a deal with Len Borda, High Executive of the Defense and Wellness Council, the supreme authority in the world. In an effort to save his own skin, and maintain control over MultiReal, a potential weapon for world domination, Natch turns to Borda’s political enemies, with consequences no one could have foreseen.

Where Infoquake was about the cutthroat world of business, MultiReal brings Natch and the Surina/Natch MultiReal Fiefcorp into the dog eat dog world of politics. Natch’s entry into the political arena has consequences for himself and for his feifcorp, with a surprising upset of power thrown into the mix. Edelman has maintained the high level of energy from the previous novel and even ratcheted it up a bit higher.

Natch is pursued by several competing factions in this story, but while his story is still integral, it is no the primary one in MultiReal. Jara becomes the primary protagonist and the events unfold primarily through her eyes and her perceptions. Readers who read the first novel will remember Jara as the predictable analyst, who does her job well but has qualms about the way that Natch worked his way to the top of the business rankings. Those qualms play an integral role in the events that follow, and it is Jara’s actions (or lack thereof) that are the primary motivators of the plot.

Natch also becomes a less sympathetic character than in Infoquake. Whereas in the first novel, we might have felt that Natch was being unduly persecuted, MultiReal strips that sympathy away by showing us how Natch lives in a bed of his own making. When the novel finally ends on a cliffhanger, we are left wondering if Natch will ever get out of his predicament, though we are not as desirous of that outcome. MultiReal gives a new character to empathize with in Jara, and her less superhuman countenance and behavior will resonate more deeply with readers, especially those with over bearing bosses.

Edelman has also continued in the tradition of using speeches to impart philosophy and to appeal to the reader’s spirit and emotions. When Serr Vigal makes his speech about freedom, all lovers of that ideal will feel a powerful stirring in their breast. But Edelman has branched out, and has added a great deal more action to this story than in Infoquake. The events in MultiReal are leading up to what can only be a restructuring of the world order, and any such upset will always be accompanied by violence. Edelman relates the action with the same skill as the speeches and it is both exciting and epic. Some readers may feel that the way the MultiReal program is used by Natch and some of the other characters may be a little too similar the action of The Matrix. However, it is amazing that a probability program could have such far-reaching implications, and cause so much upset.

The writing in MultiReal has also gotten more adventurous. Edelman is willing to try new ways of writing, including a whole chapter written as a letter from one character to another. He also fiddles around a bit with the omniscience of his narrator, sometimes writing in a first person style and sometimes in their person. Although this can be a little jarring, it shows that Edelman is willing to take chances with his writing. An author willing to push himself to new heights in style can only be doing the same in the substance of his story, reminding the reader that he or she will never really know what is around the next bend of the story.

MultiReal is an exciting and excellent sequel. There are many twisted and convoluted plot lines, and the web being spun around Natch is drawn ever tighter. As a good second book in a trilogy should do, it leaves us on a cliffhanger, wondering at the success or failure of its heroes. This is one of those rare cases (like The Empire Strikes Back vs. A New Hope) where the second movie far surpasses the first in quality and level of enjoyment. Fans of stories that mix philosophy and ethics, with action and technology will enjoy Edelman’s works. It is a Matrix fans’ delight, and a worthy successor to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

I highly recommend Edelman as an author, and suggest you read Infoquake and its sequel MultiReal if you are looking for high-octane action, deep thinking, and eloquent writing.

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