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Book Review: State of Mind by Sven Michael Davison

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Since the dawn of the cyberpunk genre specifically, and personal computing in general, there has always been a dream of some to have all their tech neatly contained in a chip in their head. No longer would anyone have to carry all sorts of tech gear to be on the internet all time. You can “jack in” whenever you want and surf away.

State of Mind by Sven Michael Davison explores the darker side of such a leap in technology. It ponders what would happen if the wrong people got access to a way of controlling your actions via your “chip.” Initially the chips were sold to the government as a way of controlling hard-core prisoners, but soon the chips were given to elite units of the police. Then the chips were offered to the general public, all of which was a plan by those seeking control of the masses.

This novel details a conspiracy of control and one man’s fight against the machine. Its a clever and pacey affair that never gets bogged down in nuance. A “hard science techno thriller” this ain’t. Since the author has worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood, it’s no surprise the novel is so visual and action oriented. Despite being written by such a scribe, there is no feeling this is merely a prose version of a screenplay as so often happens when writers try to make the transition between screenplay and novel.

While this does not rival Sterling or Gibson in the cyberpunk stakes, there is a certain quality here that is recommendable. Its neatly covers the line between edgy enough for the cyberpunk fan and readable enough for the mere fiction fan.

State of Mind makes for an enjoyable read start to finish.

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