Rick Moss. Aqueous (www.aqueousbooks.com), $14 trade paper (439p) ISBN 978-0-9883837-3-9
Debut novelist Moss shows promise with sociological speculative fiction that projects our obsession for social networking to one plausible extreme. In the world of Ebocloud, and in its eponymous social network, members' influence is measured not in "Likes," but by the accumulation of "kar-merit"-it's hyphenated in book? points awarded for internal-as in thoughts? acts of altruism or community service. Ellison Luber, while investigating a fire that destroyed his studio, uncovers a conspiracy with roots that may lead up to Ebocloud's founder. Luber, not a member at the novel's opening, is a surrogate as new to Ebocloud as the reader; accordingly, this leads to uncomfortable passages of nakedly expositional dialogue where much is told and not shown. The book is at its best when playing the game of "if this is true, what else is true?" exemplified by a bravura sequence in a stadium on the eve of the rollout of Ebocloud's next phase, a neurally implanted version of the technology. Readers won't be surprised that this implant comes with unforeseen consequences, but this and the arson plot resolve satisfactorily by novel's end. Unfortunately, the plot tends to drag the book down when compared to the feats of world-building on display, which make the novel worth the price of admission. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
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