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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Just Finished Reading... Jump By Sean Williams(Twinmaker 1)

I've known a bit about this book since some of my students read it in manuscript form before it was published by Allen and Unwin back in 2013. It had mixed reactions from the kids who'd read the MS - one loved it, one didn't care for it. But I'd never got around to reading it myself.

When Mr Williams talked about it at the Reading Matters conference in May this year, I downloaded it, but only read a few pages before being distracted by something else. 

Then the publisher sent me a copy of Volume 3 to review and I thought it was about time I finally got stuck into it.(They have since then kindly sent me a copy of Volume 2 as well). 

As a Star Trek fan I found it fascinating. I grew up with the Star Trek transporter and replicators. Of course, the transporter(called d-mat in Jump) is still in the realms of science fiction and looks to stay that way for some time to come, if they don't find a way to transport something more than a photon! But the replicator(in this novel called the fabber) is actually possible, according to an article I read in New Scientist while researching for Grey Goo, a chapter book I was writing for Cengage a few years ago. It could possibly be done by nanotechnology.(I had great fun using the notion in Grey Goo) Tanith Lee also made good use of it in her Drinking Sapphire Wine novels.

In this novel, however, the fabber is an outgrowth of the d-mat. One that makes sense, to me at least. 

Remember how Dr McCoy was always grumbling about entrusting his atoms to the damned thing? Because you'd have to be destroyed and put together again to be transported. And while that was happening, the machine would have to save your pattern. There was even an episode of the animated Star Trek in which an elderly couple, a former Enterprise captain and his wife, the ship's doctor, were restored to youth during a crisis because of this fact. 

In the world of Jump, the fabber and the d-mat between them have more or less saved the world, which was close to destruction after a set of natural disasters. There is no more hunger or lack of resources. You can live in Sweden and go to school in the U.S. You can party anywhere you like. Most people don't have to work at all, though there is an administration and there are the peacekeepers(police force). You can access the Air, a much-expanded Internet, via your special contact lenses.There are rules that are supposed to make sure it's all safe. Supposed to. But even in this pleasant world, people are going to be dissatisfied with something about themselves and someone or something is out to take advantage of that...

This is the world in which teenager Clair lives and has all the usual teenage friendship/romance angst issues before realising that her friend Libby has tried something going through the Air called Improvement, which is likely to get her killed within days - and in trying to find out what's going on, Clair is on the run in a breathtaking, non-stop adventure.  

I love that the author has thought, really thought, about what the implications of the transporter and the replicator might be, in a way that Trek didn't. (I think the original reason for the Star Trek transporter was to save on SFX so the ship didn't have to land in every episode). I won't say more because spoilers, but I thoroughly  enjoyed it. I can't wait to read the next book, which I will review formally.  

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