Friday, 28 August 2015

Review: The Beam by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt

In the future, the Beam network has taken over our lives -- but now, it's developing a life of its own.

The year is 2097. North America has become the North American Union -- the only place on Earth not decimated by the environmental catastrophes of the 2020s. To protect citizens during the technological renaissance, the NAU erected the Lattice: an impervious net to keep the so-called "Wild East" at bay. That was when the NAU began to regrow as a cyperpunk utopia … ordystopia, depending on where you stand. 

Today, the NAU appears to be divided into two political parties: the socialist Directorate and the capitalist Enterprise. But within secret circles, the true division of NAU power and wealth is more apparent: there is the Lower 99 Percent, who rely on The Beam to entertain and connect the nationwide hive mind ... and there is the Beau Monde, who control it. 
Meet Micah and Isaac Ryan: Figureheads of power, pawns within a greater game
For the Lower 99, the choice between Enterprise and Directorate is simple. They can choose the security of Directorate: fed, sheltered, and provided-for by the government … but unable to advance beyond their assigned (and modest) station. Or they can choose the potential and risk of Enterprise, where a few entrepreneurs and artists thrive, but many more die in the gutters without a safety net. 

Micah heads the Enterprise party, blessed with family wealth that grew from rumored unsavory practices during the dystopian years. Isaac heads the opposing Directorate -- just as wealthy, just as enhanced with restricted Beam-interfacing upgrades much better than those widely believed to exist. 

But both of the Ryan brothers ultimately serve an inner circle, with strings pulled from high above. 
Meet Kai Dreyfuss: A prostitute assassin with aspirations to join the Beau Monde, harboring a cortex full of dangerous secrets.
Kai is eternally young, eternally beautiful, her add-ons suited to her dual careers in pleasure and espionage. Kai would do anything to ascend to the secret club she's learned is above her pay grade … and her connection to Nicolai Costa (the power behind Isaac Ryan) gives her an unfair advantage. 
Meet Leah: A girl with no last name, no past, and a hacker's mind in the body of a luddite.
Not everyone loves the hyperconnectivity of The Beam, although few are immune to its influence. Leah (young, dreadlocked, with a penchant for disobedience) lives a pair of lives between the Organa settlement that eschews technology and plots to disrupt the network … and her prodigious ability to see behind The Beam's AI to the intelligence growing within it. 
And meet Doc Stahl: A biological upgrades dealer who knows too much.
So far, the Beau Monde has kept its secrets under wraps and the true breadth of its power hidden. But Thomas "Doc" Stahl has stumbled into a place he shouldn't be and seen things he's forbidden to see. There are upgrades on the market far superior to those he's been allowed to sell -- and interests out there who are prepared to kill to protect their secrets. 
But Shift is coming 
The Enterprise and Directorate parties have always given people an identity … and a "them" to resent so the true power balance can remain hidden. In the past, the chance for citizens to change their party (or stay in the same) for the next six years at Shift has been routine. But this year, the air is different. Riots are blooming. And this Shift promises to be anything but ordinary. 

The Beam is part hard science fiction, part political thriller, part heart-pounding cyperpunk adventure, part techno thriller. Science fiction in the footprints of Asimov, where nothing is quite what it seems.

My Thoughts:

WOW, This was brilliant, original and the best in this genre that I have read in a very long time.  This is also a series I discovered by pure chance which following in the footsteps of both Asimov and the Matrix it is truly groundbreaking. 

Set in the future this alternate reality feels so recognisable and real. The "internet of things" is already a reality in our lifetime, The Beam takes us further into the future where the internet develops first into Crossbrace and then simply the Beam. To date there are three titles set in this beam world, I am hooked and have already devoured The Future of Sex and plan on continuing with The Beam: Season Two.

What I liked about this book is that it is so different and yet so recognisable. The technology whilst advanced can be traced back to what we have today and people are people and politics is politics no matter what technologies are at hand. The book covers a lot of ground and is full of interesting three dimensional characters and situations. The attention to detail is also incredible. 

There is so much going on but the main story in this season is about Kai and Doc. A simple case of mistaken identity spirals out of control. At the same time another thread is about Leah and is the link into the next book.

What I don't like is the sales model, publishing a book in parts (or episodes) and bundling later into complete books (or seasons).

Highly recommend and not to be missed by all with a love of new technology, especially when offset against a backdrop of humanity.

(Review copy gratefully received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Realm & Sands; 1 edition (16 July 2013)

The Series:

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