Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book Review: The Multiplex Man

Title: The Multiplex Man Author: James P. Hogan

The Multiplex Man is a decent read, with a clever and twisting story arc revealed in a nonlinear way through the various viewpoints of the eponymous character. Published in 1992, it inverts the East/West ideological divide by creating a authoritarian West that has turned to a ideologically Green command economy purportedly to stave off a Malthusian disaster. In contrast, former Soviet bloc has become a freedom loving, apparently strongly capitalistic and libertarian society that's enjoying the benefits of a healthy connection with human colonies throughout the solar system.

Against this backdrop, the hook is dangling quickly, with the reader drawn in with the mysterious as to why mild mannered Dick Jarrow awakes from a doctor's visit to find himself in a hotel in a different state with all of the trappings of an adventerous life -- lipstick on the pillow, guns and cash in a bag and a set of mysterious notes -- as well as well as a different identity. As he searches to understand his situation, we're given ever deeper layers of mystery to uncover.

Plotwise, the story arc twists and turns, with the situation rarely being entirely what it seems. While the characters' constant obsession with ideology can be offputting, it isn't entirely inappropriate for the world it's set in. It does detract from some of character building, making the characters feel flatter than I think they otherwise would. The point of view shifts, while occasionally fitting well within the plot and system of the universe, are often jarring and I think could've been executed more smoothly. Still, they do likely avoid unnecessary exposition which is generally a good thing.

All-in-all, a worthwhile read that kept me interested despite feeling excessively ideological.

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