SFF readers can be cautious when it comes to reading series novels. While a fair amount of us like to read the series books as they publish, a corresponding percentage of readers wish to wait until a series is published in full before diving head into what they hope to be an immersive experience. That and the wait between volumes can lead to reader frustration and/or forgetting some of the events of the previous novel.
I’ve read a lot of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror over the years and my aim with this feature is to examine those SFFH series which have concluded. In short, all books of the series are available to be read in some format, electronic or print, but ideally both.
In 2005, Prometheus launched Pyr, their imprint dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Editorial Director Lou Anders brought genre savvy, industry experience and passion to the imprint. The imprint was built through a combination of fresh original voices and import titles – titles initially published overseas from the US and making their first US appearance with the Pyr fiery label on the spine. One of the early new voices Lou Anders published was David Louis Edelman, a computer programmer and marketing guy who worked for several dot-coms with a great passion for the genre. In 2006, Infoquake, the first volume of The Jump 225 Trilogy published. In it, Edelman spins technology advancement through the lens of a marketing executive, providing a new and fresh view on a SF-nal element familiar to many – virtual reality and cybernetic enhancements. In Edelman’s realistic and plausible future, this technology goes by the name of bio/logics. According to one of the many appendices in the book, bio/logics is “The science of using programming code to extend the capabilities of the human body and mind.”
Set in the far future, perhaps a millennium from the present, the story takes place about three hundred years after a global collapse and reawakening of society. Reading the appendices, one gets a sense of how much detail is laid in the foundation for his future history. Despite the timeline bridging today and the current time of the novel, the history of one of the pre-eminent families, and the glossary, Edelman does not overburden the narrative with large infodumps. There’s a real sense of history in the far-future he posits. Conversely, there’s a twenty-minutes into the future feel to the novel, and I suppose Edleman may have wanted to clear the surface of the world a bit with the convoluted future history to posit something with greater technological reach in a society that bore a resemblance to the sensibilities of the modern world.
As the first book in Edelman’s Jump 225 trilogy, Infoquake sets up the world of corporate software marketing, humanity’s absorption of technology, and the genesis of the character of Natch, the protagonist. Imagine the brilliance of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in the personality of a rock star. Imagine this individual has charted maverick territory in the technological world, and that same world is waiting on baited breath for him to let it know when the next iteration of his technology will be released. Edelman’s introduction of Natch in the “present” of the story to then only backtrack and show his early years was a clever technique, which added more layers to Natch’s personality. Edleman gives Natch a solid bunch of support characters – Horvil, his life-long best friend and business partner; his apprentice Jara; the Surina family, which is the most esteemed family in the world who knocks on Natch’s door once his company gains an extremely high profile; as well as an antagonist named Len Borda, the man who oversees the governing board of the business in which Natch is involved; and lastly, Brone, a childhood rival who haunts Natch for much of his life
In MultiReal Edelman switches gears slightly, focusing less on Natch and more on those around him. Specifically Jara, the analyst who was part of Natch’s company in Infoquake, is the character who takes center stage here. She doesn’t so much take top billing as she shares it; as a result of the events of Infoquake, Jara is now appointed the head of the Surina/Natch MultiReal Fiefcorp. As a result, Edelman focuses much of the character development of the novel on Jara. Meanwhile, Natch is on the run from the government (the Defense and Wellness Council who appointed Jara), his corporate enemies, crossing the country in a soul-searching mission and attempting to remove the deadly black code virus that was injected into him. Clearly, our hero is quite the busy one. For all that’s going on with Natch, he takes a step back while still being a central character. A lot of the groundwork Edelman laid in constructing Natch’s character in Infoquake pays off in MultiReal.
As the implications of the MultReal technology continued to be fleshed out in the novel, the way in which the characters spoke about it was as if it could allow one to be a god. It could allow a person to create the world they want, have events play out to their wants. This notion of playing God reminds me of some of the ethical implications of technology and science can be seen in some of the earliest science fiction novels and the one of which I find myself drawing parallels to is the classic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Granted, Dr. Frankenstein was playing God to one creature, but the implications of his actions can be paralleled to the development of the MultiReal technology. It raises the question: is Natch playing at God? It is an audacious question, but considering the heights to which Natch has so quickly soared, it might be an appropriate one, too.
Geosynchron, the concluding volume of the trilogy begins with protagonist Natch as the Steve Jobs Rock Star imprisoned and possibly hallucinating a ghostly vision. Because the MultiReal bio/logics is such a powerful thing, the entire world wants control of the new version set to be released into the Data Stream. This of course includes Natch as well as his old childhood rival Brone; the heirs and board members of the Surina family; and the two conflicting factions of the Defense and Wellness Council which is erupting into a civil war with one side led by its head honcho Len Borda and the other by Magan Kai Lee, the de facto 2nd in command.
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Edelman’s writing throughout the trilogy is how he straddles the line between plausible futuristic technology and a sense of history bordering on myth. Between the lost-time preceding the current time of the novel, and the legendary family of the Surinas, Edleman has informed his world with an authentic and seamless sense of history. When characters talk of the Surinas, it is with reverence. When Natch begins to see visions of the deceased Margaret Surina, the feeling Edleman elicits is revelatory, almost like an epiphany. It comes across both mysterious and profound, and ultimately effective.
If I were to do the old if you like “A” then you might like “B,” then I’d suggest that SyFy’s series Caprica some similar sensibilities to David’s great trilogy. The look of the show very much evokes some of the same futuristic hue and shine as does Edelman’s project future. The Jump 225 Trilogy is a must read, an instant classic, and a work of SF that will help define this first decade of the 21st Century. Like Stephenson and Herbert’s work, Edelman’s novel seems to have come along at the right time, capturing a sense of the world as it is now, reacting to and projecting a fully realized extrapolation of it. There’s a seamless blending of futuristic technology and business marketing not often seen in the genre, which is one of the things setting The Jump 225 Trilogy apart from other SF on the shelves.
It has been five years since the trilogy came to a conclusion and it still lingers in my thoughts. I’m not sure what the legacy of this trilogy is, but for me, the writing was precise, engaging, and fully plausible. The future history Edelman posits is quite interesting and the time between now and the future present of the novels seems rich for more stories to be fully told. All three books are available in both physical and electronic formats. I don’t see enough people talking about these books despite Infoquake being considered the best SF book published in 2006 by Barnes & Noble. Edelman was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award Nominee for Best New Writer in 2007. The covers on these books are also dynamic and capture the feel of the book quite well, I’ve always thought. When Stephan Martiniere is the cover artist, that tends to happen.
Edelman has come across as a very smart guy with great writing chops, I’d love to see more from him but for now, The Jump 225 Trilogy is an excellent and complete SF trilogy.
(As happy coincidence would have it, I had this write-up completed and prepared for submission before the Joshua Bilmes’s “Recommended Reading by Professionals” post)