Candle

John Barnes, Author
John Barnes, Author Tor Books $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-89077-3
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-8125-8968-9
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-87700-2
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4299-7060-0
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In a multitextured narrative that explores issues of free will and of the virtues and dangers of forced utopia, Barnes (Finity) portrays a world in which humanity is linked like a computer network under the ""One True."" The victor of the devastating war of the Memes--computer viruses able to operate in mind and machine alike--One True is working toward rebuilding Earth and keeping all of its humans happy. Through a program called Resuna, which is installed in individual brains, One True allows anyone to download the experiences and talents of anyone else. Resuna also keeps bad feelings and memories from harming its host. Living outside this overly happy society are the ""cowboys,"" who operate under their own free wills until they are caught and ""turned"" to One True. Barnes's protagonist, Currie Curtis Curran, was once a cowboy hunter. His final hunt was disastrous, however, ending in the death of members of his party as well as of his quarry--or so he thought. When the elusive cowboy once again appears on One True's radar, Currie is sent after him but is himself captured. The cowboy shuts down Currie's Resuna and, with it, his link to One True. He then shows the hunter the parts of his mind that he has been missing. Much more than a simple parable in tribute to freedom, Barnes's new novel will continually have readers questioning who is in control and who is in the right. Creative science; the creepiness inherent in the phrase ""let overwrite, let override,"" which allows Resuna to take complete control of a person's mind; the complexity of Currie's character; the futuristic slang that sparkles throughout--all add up to a full, rich vision of the future, albeit one compressed expertly into 240 pages. (Feb.)
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