A future historical concerned with virtual reality, computer networks, war crimes, and mind control, set in 23rd-century Russia. At one time most of the northern hemisphere was controlled by the fascist Guardians, who slaughtered millions in pursuit of unguessable goals. But then the Net developed a program that plugged into human brains, turning them into the unstoppable, robot-slave Unanimous Army; millions more died before the Guardians were extirpated. Now, Maya Tatyanichna Andreyeva is a ``camera,'' implanted with broadcasting equipment that provides her audience with full sensory virtual reality of everything she experiences; her new on-line editor, researcher, and gofer is Keishi Mirabara. While presenting a series about the atrocities committed by the Guardians, Maya contacts the ancient, crippled scientist Pavel Voskresenye, once a dissident, then a victim of Guardian experiments that left him sharing his mind with that of a whale— the last whale on Earth. Maya's emotions and memories have been suppressed in punishment for a crime she can't remember having committed; drawn deeper and deeper into Pavel's murky world, she learns that he intends to destroy the repressive Weavers, who control the Net. And there will be further shocks for Maya when she recovers her memories and discovers who Keishi is. A stunningly imagined and developed backdrop, with three hardworking characters, one plot absurdity (the impossible whale), and a flatfooted, tedious chunk of exposition to finish up. All in all, though, an assured, noteworthy, auspicious debut.
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