Plot: The plot of Clarke’s novel is loose, as befits the nature of the story the author tells. It is related to readers through the experiences of a half-dozen characters whose relationship to one another is not immediately apparent, and only some of whose paths cross by the novel’s end. Ultimately, the tapestry woven from their lives and experiences elaborates a future in which society is threatened by the abuse of virtual reality technology.
Prose/Style: Clarke’s prose is precise and well-suited to the narrative approach, which is to advance this story through brief chapters, each a continuing vignette in one of the character’s lives.
Originality: There are many futuristic novels in which virtual reality is a sub-theme. Clarke’s stands apart from many in the novel ways that the author shows how a technology created with a distinct scientific purpose can be appropriated for a variety of alternative uses, some perverse and some potentially beneficial.
Character Development: Clarke’s novel is character-driven, and these characters are the novel’s strength. Each is well developed with a distinct personality, especially Kel Rafferty, the scientist whose implant design is stolen to serve the virtual reality black market, and Maura Torres, the scheming head of the slightly crooked EduTain corporation that plays a critical role in the appropriation of Kel’s implant.
Date Submitted: April 10, 2020