from Scifidimensions by John C. Snider
In the mid-23rd century the earth is in quite a pickle. The environment has been overwhelmed by global warming and pollution: the air and oceans are considered poisonous; the populations huddle together in enclosed cities in the far north and south. Society itself is overwhelmed by nearly omnipotent corporations, and the vast majority of humanity live as “protes” – protected employees who eke out a living under the boot heels of the “.Coms”.
Dominic Jedes is a scion of the ruling elite, the cloned son of Richter Jedes, president of ZahlenBank. The elder Jedes has extended his lifespan to nearly three centuries, using genetic treatments and repeated organ transplants. But no amount of money can prevent the inevitable, and when Richter dies he cheats death by having his consciousness transferred into a Neural Profile (NP for short), “a new kind of bank for storing a person’s mind.” Like his father, Dominic is insensitive to the plight of the working class. When a decrepit mining submarine called the Benthica threatens to lose money for ZahlenBank, Dominic offhandedly decides to “set free” the protes who live and work on the Benthica. After all, liberating protes (thus eliminating their access to the .Coms’ live-sustaining infrastructure) is tantamount to a death sentence. The protes die; the books get balanced; problem solved.
Except the protes don’t die; in fact, from a secret undersea location they start broadcasting an invitation to protes from all over the world to leave their .Coms and join them! Now, a minor inconvenience has become a global crisis – with the protes agitating, markets stalling and the other .Coms screaming, Dominic must find the Benthica as soon as possible and shut down that transmission!
As if Dominic’s job isn’t hard enough, he discovers en route that the NP has infected him with a “nanoquan” version of itself. Now he has the voice of his recently-deceased father riding piggyback inside his own head!
Neurolink is the second book by Nashville-based writer M. M. Buckner, and it’s a worthy, suspense-filled follow-up to her freshman novel Hyperthought (which was nominated for both the Philip K. Dick Award and Scifidimensions’ own SESFA Award!). Set in the same futuristic milieu as Hyperthought, Neurolink goes beyond cyberpunk’s usual fatalistic sensibilities – Dominic’s quest offers hope against seemingly impossible technological odds. It’s cyberpunk with an old-fashioned social conscience: think Neuromancer meets Metropolis. And since Neurolink is published in mass market paperback at a mere $6.99, it’s hard to get a better bang-for-the-buck. Those greedy .Com bastards would be proud!