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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A blast from the past - Simon Brown's review of Dreaming Down-Under

I don't think I saw this at the time. Jenny came across it and drew it to my attention. Quote:

Russell Blackford's "The Soldier in the Machine" introduces us to Rhino: "Two metres tall in his scuffed leather Nikes, plus the gray horn implant arching up out of the top of his forehead, he's two-hundred kilos of beef and steroids …"

A real charmer, and bodyguard to Honey Fantasia, who performs in a "miracle band". They arrive in Bangkok at the bequest of the mysterious Colonel, a dealer in high-tech bioware who needs to deliver a package to a research lab in Adelaide. While in Bangkok, Rhino meets a couple of SACIDs, people modified to have "superinstantaneous cognition", basically the ability to "… evade before you shoot; … [correct] before you evade." They are almost superhuman in their ability to take on any opponent and win. The problem is, the Colonel's business rivals also have SACIDs to call upon, and Rhino is an essential part of the plan to get the package out of Bangkok and to its buyer.

As with Williams' story, we have a whole future world here that is dramatically different from our own. Many of the changes are only hinted at, but the impression is of a society dominated by global tech and communication companies, and under the sway of enhancing drugs and incredibly complex bioware. Blackford convinces the reader that this is the future we will have, with all its gritty, dark and forbidding particulars. A kind of cyberpunk on speed.

Blackford's universe, power of description, use of dialogue and sharply delineated characters, makes "The Soldier in the Machine" a great read.

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