In this science-fiction novel, a group of rebels defies the Guild, a monopoly that controls nanotechnology-based health care.
After various future disasters, a new kind of doctor has emerged: the Linker. Using nanotechnology and innate extrasensory perception, “The Linker brings a portion of the client’s energy into [an internal] construct called the Labyrinth….There like Theseus in the Labyrinth of Daedalus, the Linker defends the client’s energy…against a counter-energy perceived as the Minotaur.” A Linker can halt the process of death for at most a few days, giving the patient a chance to complete unfinished business—but nothing else, according to the Guild. A movement is growing to overthrow the Guild and uplink many minds for healing and psychic exploration, a movement known as k&-'myü-n&-tE, the phonetic rendering of “community.” The user’s brain hooks up and connects with other users on “Internet 3,” as if joining a data-rich dream being directed by a group mind. For one user, “Her interactions took shape within wonderfully mad problems like what is the percent GNP of Thailand related to fluctuations in Brazilian copper futures.” Several Linkers, some victims of a new disease said to be caused by the process, meet secretly to test the boundaries and possibilities of the Link. In his debut novel, Schuster ably blends science and myth, giving abstractions solidity through evocative imagery. For example, one Linker always enters his mental portal by seeing himself as a boy turning cartwheels on the beach; as his feet land in those wet footprints leading to the water, he dives into the Link. Schuster’s characters are individual and well-developed, and he employs nice turns of phrase; e.g., a young patient’s energy appears as “a boy, breathing, full of sweat and adventure.” It’s unclear whether k&-'myü-n&-tE wants to be more like a hospital, an Internet chat room, a data farm, or a group mystical experience; the novel spends more time solving immediate problems of access and uplink (and, too, in tracing character relationships) than considering these interesting possibilities.
An intriguing premise with vivid melding of science and myth.