on March 18, 2014 :
Some people aren't great at understanding other people, but that doesn't mean that they can't learn. Threaded in and around a sci-fi story about the intersection between the real world and an RPG with an interface anywhere from pure text up to and including a cranial implant, there is the growth of the often frustrating main character, Luke. He starts out being very much unaware of other people _as_ other people, not really treating his fellow human beings that differently from the artificial beings in the game. It's all about how useful other people are to him, at least at first.
While dealing with the attempts by programmers of the game to kill him and his in retaliation for his attempts to stop their often fatal plans, he meets and starts to become close to a fellow game-player and hacker who then helps him take a closer look at how he treats and thinks about the people in his life. (one of my favorite lines would have to be, in response to Luke yet again attempting to do something without talking to other people first or particularly thinking things through, "Stop. Helping.")
The characters seem like they could be real people, although the main villain is definitely not someone you ever want to meet.
This is the first book of two, and the second is not yet out (just to warn those of you who hate waiting for a continuation).
Warning: This book contains a fair bit of violence and an instance of rape. It also contain a couple of explicit sex scenes, and while they advance the plot, if you don't like reading about sex you won't want to read this book.
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)
on March 1, 2014 :
One sentence summary: if Iain M Banks and Iain Banks had collaborated on a novel, it might be very much like "We Were Gods".
Feinman's timing is prescient. The books contains many social controls and surveillance opportunities from high technology and they read like the Snowden-leaked catalog of NSA techniques yet this was written and published earlier. Uncanny coincidence, or the mark of a thoughtful writer with insights into the implications of technology? I haven't seen this much attention and detail given to social consequences since some of Larry Niven's work, although more recently Charles Stross comes close.
It reads a bit like some Cory Doctorow titles, in that there are in-jokes and references for tech-savvy people, but it is accessible and enjoyable without relying on that insider knowledge.
This absolutely lives up to and builds on the promise of Feinman's first work, "Duplicate" - also highly recommended.
Trigger warnings for sex and (sensitively done and plot-relevant) sexual violence.
(reviewed the day of purchase)