01/08/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: TOR/Forge. 479 page hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $28.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1899-2.
check out website: www.tor-forge.com
For a first novel by the brothers Dani and Eytan Kollin, 'The Unincorporated Man' is finely realised. That's not to say it's perfect but most of it is cleverly thought out using a current man adjusting to an unfamiliar society plot.
In this case, billionaire Justin Cord has himself frozen when dying of illness and is only found three hundred years later when a disused mine is being explored. This future has colonies out in the wilds of the Solar System and advanced technology but everyone is incorporated.
That is, people own shares in you and you can afford to do the same to them. Ergo, if you're successful and making money, the shareholders benefit and if you can invest in someone on the way up, your own profits can rise as well. The Kollins have thoughtfully gone through the pros and cons of this state of affairs. On the surface, it even looks like a good plan because it removes poverty, ensures you get a good education and such. Thing is you're a slave to everyone else.
The history leading up to this situation was based on a massive catastrophe which took out a large percentage of the population with people from Alaska essentially repopulating which explains how the Middle East and parts of Africa and their problems were taken out of the mix.
Justin Cord is also a unique on being repaired and awakened as he didn't belong to the system and was totally unincorporated and preferred to stay that way. GCI, the big corporation that woke him, see this as an affront to their system. His chief protagonist, Hektor Sambianco, manoeuvres around the corporate ladder after various defeats to take him on in the law courts and any way he can, not realising that Cord wasn't his only enemy.
In many respects, 'The Unincorporated Man' harkens back to the type of novel that was created in the 1950s combined with a modern twist. It's certainly Science Fiction enough without adding an unnecessary twist of Artificial Intelligences getting involved and then forgotten about. Toning that sub-plot down would have made this story a real classic. Saying that, this book is an excellent start and I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future to come.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA