[Book Review] Politics the cyberpunk way

infomocracyBook Review: Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older

I got this for the cover, I stayed for the story.

It’s been a while since the science fiction genre surprised me with something new. Enter Infomocracy, a thought experiment in the concept of democracy, corporate power, and human nature. And, so you don’t think this is a political treatise, there are other things too, like explosions, anarchists, a paranoid operative, and campaign spies.

Infomocracy introduces the reader to a future world in which democracy means you can vote to be part of any governing faction, no matter where you are geographically. A district – called centenal – in the middle of North America can vote to join a Chinese nationalist faction, or be part of a corporate-ruled party, or any number of thousands of different systems. And with the vote, you get the laws of your party and become their citizens. A drive across a city might cross the jurisdictions of dozens of centenals, each with their own laws and ways of life. The entire system is overseen by Information, a giant international bureaucracy that provides up to date information in an evolved, cyberpunk version of the internet.

Now, pollsters and campaigners are seeing hints that the latest election may displace the corporate-run supermajority party, and all the other parties are out for blood. In the meantime, a few fringe analysts are also seeing hints of worrying rhetoric hinting at war (a political reality that had been thrown out with the old political boundaries), and anarchy groups are stepping up their own anti-establishment campaigns. It’s campaign season.

For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Rich in ideas, characters, and international read, this cyberpunk political suspense thriller hits all the right notes.

A definite recommend for fans of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and for anyone looking for something new and different.

Canary Verdict:

(Delightful and different.)

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