Multireal by David Louis Edelman

Multireal by David Louis Edelman

On the night that I first started reading David Louis Edelman’s Multireal, I was undergoing a sleep study at Mt. Auburn Hospital.  My neurologist was trying to determine a cause for the headaches I have been having for the last twenty years or so (dating back to high school, which makes this a good time to disclose that David and I went to high school together).  While immersing myself in the intricate story of the way Bio/Logic programming has brought about an amazing new world and open up the possibilities of the future, I turned my head to the left and noticed that the 17 electrodes attached to various parts of my head were hooked up to an electronics box made by a company called Bio-Logic.

So the first thing David’s book does is pass the Hunt for Red October test.  In Hunt, when trying to determine what the doors that house the Caterpillar Drive could be, he asks Jeffrey Jones, “Could you launch an ICBM horizontally?”  Jones replies, “Sure.  Why would you want to?”

Any good Science Fiction novel must pass the Hunt test.  It’s not enough to create a world of amazing possibilites and incredible technology.  There must be a reason these technologies were developed.  Things that people don’t need eventually fall by the wayside.  They can sound neat on the page (and eventually look neat on screen), but if they don’t have a practical purpose, then it’s just flashiness.  In other words, sloppy writing.  Well, Multireal passes the test with flying colors.

We never get a clear idea of how far into the future Multireal takes place, but amazing things have happened to the human race.  Not necessarily good things, but certainly amazing things.  The new world of programming have combined logical advances that keep people healthy, changes the external environment to suit someone’s mood, allow people to cross great distances without actually going anywhere, yet they are all interconnected with the human body.  It’s kind of like the whole concept behind the Matrix, where people, in their physical reality, are hooked up to machines and live kind of a virtual world.  With two exceptions.  The first is that the virtual world and physical world co-exist on the same plane, not in different realities.  And David’s Jump 225 trilogy (Multireal is the second in the trilogy) is actually well written.

Multireal not only passes the all important Hunt test, but also passes the main tests for any work of genre fiction:  1 – Do the characters act in a consistent manner to their personality, or do they suddenly change just to advance the plot?  We can call this the Season 3 of Heroes test, and since David, unlike the writers of Heroes, is not a sloppy writer simply trying to move his plot along, he has no problem with this one.  Of course, Natch, the primary character of the story acts in a completely random manner that no one can predict, but that actually fits his personality and brings us to the second test.

2 – Can you predict what’s going to happen?  The quick answer is no.  At some point in almost any Science Fiction novel you expect some kind of battle.  But would you expect government soldiers barging into a government hearing and opening fire, some on other soldiers, and the hero escaping, not because he’s fighting a path to the exit, but standing still, trying not to pass out, changing realities around him simply to make sure he doesn’t get shot by a dart?

3 – Are characters shades black and white, or are they shades of gray?  So far the person who has been set up as our main villain, Len Borda, is seen pretty much in black.  But given that he’s desperately clinging to power, seemingly cursed to live through to his own failure (May you live long enough to see exactly what you’ve done to the world is a fantastic curse), the question of his moral certainty is not as interesting as the main characters who are definitely drawn in shades of gray: Natch (our main character, and potentially, our hero), Brone (Natch’s adversary since childhood) and Magan Kai Lee (Len Borda’s subordinate).  It is the question of what choices these three will make and how they will intersect that I look forward to in a couple of years when the trilogy concludes.

I guess the only complaint I do have is the names of Magan and Rey Gonerev.  The first one is male and the second is female and I spent the whole book looking at the two names and thinking the opposite.