The Lattice, an open-source, omnipotent information technology, grants access to every thought and action—and Byron Shaw is sworn to protect it against attacks by fanatics, including the ones who have just abducted him.
In the kickoff to a trilogy, author Hanberg explores the unintended consequences of awe-inspiring information technology. Astronomers in the 21st century, who were looking to remotely measure gravity waves and particles, invented the Lattice, a supercooled array of rhodium atoms, whose sensitivity exceeds its original goal. People plugged into it via headsets, tablet PCs or neural implants can enjoy total immersion in all the experiences and thoughts of the past 5 billion years—the “entire scope of human history, planetary history, astronomical history.” Now, after a generation of use, wars and espionage are obsolete, cars linked to the Lattice drive themselves, and anyone can visit (or inhabit) anyone in history. And, yes, experiencing orgasms with historical celebrities is an addictive vice. But religious sects and dissidents oppose the Lattice, and the two machines—one at the former Area 51 in Nevada and an underground backup in Switzerland—are regularly attacked. Byron Shaw is a top security chief at the well-defended Nevada Lattice; intelligence gleaned from the Lattice saved him during a childhood kidnapping, and he believes he owes the device his life. But when an attempt to destroy the Lattice very nearly succeeds, Shaw finds himself confronting unknown opponents who wield astounding technology and coordinate attacks via cells of sleeper-agent allies, who are seemingly untraceable even by the omnipotent Lattice. Actually, the enemy intends to recruit him. Hanberg’s thought-experiment premise is a nifty one: How can a conspiracy be carried out in a world where secrecy no longer exists? The Lattice is a staggeringly smart example of what sci-fi critics call the “Big Dumb Object,” but Hanberg’s expertly honed storytelling is sleek and fast enough that readers won’t get tripped up in the twists.
A solid premise supports this entertaining tale.