Saturday, March 24, 2012
Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer
I read this book as a serial from Analog.
There have been several terrorist attacks against the USA. The terrorists use extremely powerful and compact bombs which utilize a new sort of technology which causes a powerful electromagnetic pulse besides the explosion. While the president is making speech he is shot to the back. During his lifesaving operation, the White House is blown away. The EMP pulse that explosion causes affects somehow a memory experiment which is ongoing just on the floor above from the operating room where president’s surgery is taking place. Suddenly, all people who are inside a certain range start to remember each other’s life in a chain. (Person A remembers the events of person B’s life, person B remembers person C’s life, C D’s and so on). That means that someone can access the memories of the US president. Understandably that is a “slight” security risk, especially so when a major counterterrorism strike, operation Counterpunch, is due to start in just a few days. Also, the sniper who shut the president turns out to be a member of Secret Service, the very organization which should be protecting the president. That raises a possibility of a larger conspiracy behind the attack. And all this is just the setting and covers only a few dozen first pages. The main plot revolves around the memory sharing and how it affects the people who are experiencing it. The ending of the book could be said to be very removed from the beginning, and was something I wasn’t expecting after the first half of the book. The book as such was pretty readable and entertaining, but there were several problems. The characterization wasn’t always very believable, there were some problems with superfluous and clumsy exposition (for example the “president cipher”, the president “just happens” to ponder about a cipher he devised as a teen, and then the said cipher is used to pass on critical information later in the book). Also, there wasn’t even half believable reason why the assassin defected for the terrorism. Promise of virgins in afterlife isn’t a believable reason for such actions. And the details of operation Counterpunch aren’t really credible, not mention that operation of that magnitude couldn’t have been kept as a secret. As a whole, the book was entertaining fluff which was easy and fast read.