From debut author Plastino, a sci-fi novel about life in a virtual world known as the Cloud.
The year is 2081, and life in the United States is different from the present day though not unrecognizable. Self-driving cars get their passengers home safely, teachers are given generous salaries (“they were compensated similar to 20th century medical doctors”), and those with autism are respected for their abilities (“They were viewed as an evolutionary link to the future”). What differs immensely from today is that those running the Cloud pay users for their harnessable energy, produced while engaged in the artificial environment. After plugging into a “hive,” users enter an “entire body experience” that allows for great freedom. Though some choose to spend their entire lives in the Cloud, a place that allows all manner of activities, from building castles to simulated drunkenness, many, like Parker, decide to enter for a few hours at a time. A “Quantities Analysis and Strategy” student at the North Mountain Academy, Parker is a sharp young man who enjoys earning a little extra money from his time spent plugged in. As the decision is made to fund research at North Mountain to study the effects and/or possibility of having children in the Cloud, many religious groups object. Extremist groups object violently, so the futures of such research and those involved become uncertain. Plastino painstakingly describes this land of thrills, which can occasionally grow tiresome. Such is the case when Parker views an interactive map while in the Cloud: “He could see the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids of Giza from his chair.” Though such an interaction might be exciting for Parker, it proves no livelier for the reader than looking at an actual map. But such sluggishness passes quickly, leaving those intrigued by this sort of uber-Internet longing for more.
An imaginative, though sometimes-overdetailed, sci-fi adventure with its share of futuristic enticements.