Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Bright Spot, by Robert Sydney

The Bright Spot, by Robert Sydney

The Bright Spot is a mystery novel set in a dark time in our not too distant future. It is mostly formulaic; the protagonist finds himself thrust into a situation that he doesn’t comprehend, refuses to take the easy way out multiple times, and eventually obtains both understanding and power. While not amazingly original, the vision of our future that surrounds the characters is more interesting. The supposition is that something called workware has been invented that allows people to flawlessly perform tasks, without training. Think of it like what happens to the heroes of the Matrix when getting new knowledge downloaded: one minute you don’t know how to fly a helicopter and the next you do. There is also the unfortunate side-effect of the person running workware not remembering anything that happens when it is active. Workware is the MacGuffin that drives the plot; turns out that someone has the ability to take control over someone running workware and can make them do absolutely anything, including murder. The characters are one-dimensional and the plot is fairly obvious, but I still enjoyed reading it.

The idea of workware isn’t amazingly farfetched with today’s technology; neurophysiology is a quickly growing science, prosthetic limbs are becoming more and more advanced, and cochlear implants are allowing deaf people to hear again. How distant are automatic learning technologies? Okay, probably not in my lifetime. But 50 years ago the idea of a device that allowed a deaf person to enjoy Boléro would have been laughable. Who knows?

First Sentence:
They called themselves Recreation, described themselves as sort of educational, sort of artsy.

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