Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"The Northern Star: Civil War"

By Mike Gullickson

A bleak sky covers the quiet streets, abandoned by the citizens who have replaced the physical world in favor of the exciting and endlessly possible virtual reality.  In the distance, bright white and fiery oranges interrupt the yellow horizon, a battle ensuing between the monsters of technology, the Goliaths of the modern age: the Tank Majors.

Mike Gullickson masterfully delivers a world where the last remnants of natural resources are drying up, cyberspace is pervasive and powerful, and bodies are turned into weapons.  The horror is not in the fantastic future of far away, but rather realistic views of what’s possible just down the road.

In this next chapter of “The Northern Star” series, Tank Major John Raimey, the hulking mechanical man capable of leveling buildings and withstanding missile blasts, returns to finish the battle that began years ago.  Yet it is the war he wages with himself, fighting with the guilt of the choices of his past, that he shows his remaining human vulnerability.  By the gift of near invincibility, he has sacrificed the life of his wife and the love of his estranged daughter, Vanessa, who has now grown up under the supervision of Dr. Evan Lindo, the pioneer in the creation of the first bionic soldiers, including Raimey himself.  

Through him, we meet the major players of this newfound technologically advanced society, including Cynthia Revo, the mastermind behind the development of the Mindlink, a mental communicator and server that connects all human minds so completely that people are capable of existing online, and the founder of the company MindCorps, which has singlehandedly becoming the source of modern existence.  Such power becomes irresistible to Evan, and by devising alternative uses of the technology, he finds it possible to integrate the personalities of others into himself by melding their minds, destroying who they once were, so all that remains is Evan.  Soon, as the war between the Coalition, consisting of the U.S., the E.U. and China, and the Western Curse, a terrorist group, intensifies, and Lindo’s control strengthens, he realizes that it is through the possession of the virtual, rather than the physical world, that global domination can be his. 

This is a world that is both unrecognizable and yet oddly familiar- the greed for power and the thirst for newer, more evolved technology is a reality that Gullickson expertly weaves in his novel.  In the ultimate battle of wills against minds, brute strength against superior weaponry, heart against head, the fate of the future hangs in the balance.  Amidst this harsh impersonal landscape of nodes and circuits, Gullickson portrays the interpersonal relationships between characters with care and compassion, underlining the profound importance of human connection, above all others.   

1 comment:

  1. Great review, thorough and lyrical - I'm going to have to buy this one!