One of Us

Michael Smith, Author Bantam Books $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-553-10605-3
Dreams, memories and life as we know it are shown to be forms of virtual reality in this extravagant future noir thriller from the author of Spares. In 2017, America is a landscape of Philip K. Dick surreality that includes appliances with personalities, drugs to enhance coincidence and devices that can convert dreams into electromagnetic energy. Hap Thompson, a loner of awesome hacker skills, makes an illicit living as a ""REMtemp,"" personally absorbing the nightmares of paying customers. When he upgrades to more lucrative--and illegal--memory disposal, he takes on more than he bargained for: the memory of a recent unsolved murder, knowledge of which could send him to prison. Hap's efforts to track down his mysterious client and pass the memory back to her are complicated by his duplicitous employer, traitorous contacts on the Internet and a dedicated cop, all engaged in an apparent conspiracy to frame him. And when enigmatic alien presences from the transferred memory invade his life, Hap senses that even his own grasp of reality is not to be trusted. Smith's ear for the nuances of classic hard-boiled narrative is surpassed only by his skill at exceeding expectations for the conventional mystery/suspense tale. The novel's logic-morphs and exponential complexities of plot culminate in a stunning revelation that ultimately ties Hap's hardware-grounded cyberculture to a metaphysical dimension. The price of this audacious development is a talky denouement that dissipates the climax's energy, but readers will still close this book reeling at the implications of their own dreams and memories. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza; film rights optioned by Warner Bros. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-553-58069-3
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