Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zendegi - Greg Egan

A simpler book for Egan.

This one follows two characters. Martin, an Australian journalist and foreign correspondent in Iran, and Nasim, an Iranian researcher studying artificial intelligence in the USA.

While Martin is there a conservative Iranian politician is caught with a tranvestite hooker. An even which becomes a trigger for protest and for the reformers to bring enough pressure to bear on the corrupt power-hungry regime of the mullahs to force elections and constitutional change.

It then skips forward in time to where Martin has married an Iranian woman he met during this time, and they have a son. Nasim moved back to help with the new Iran, along with her mother, and now works for a virtual reality MMO called Zendegi. She is also a cousin of Martin's wife.

A breakthrough leads her to putting some of her old academic research to use in building proxy personalities for use in gaming. When Martin's wife is killed in a car accident, and he is diagnosed with serious liver cancer, he asks for her help in trying to build a proxy personality of him to help raise his son, who is still under double figures.

As the sophistication of these artificial personalities grows, so does opposition to them - on both religious and 'you will put a lot of us out of work' grounds.

Call it a not-quite 4.


4 out of 5

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