Review-Brain Falkner’s “Brain Jack”

From cover to cover, Brain Jack is a healthy dose of refreshment. Sam, a high school senior and self-taught computer hacker, lands a job with the government’s Cyber Defense Division. The next technological leap brings on neuro-headsets, which enable users to browse the Internet with the power of their minds. Unexpectedly, Sam’s dream job becomes a nightmare when the public’s best friend turns out to be the government’s worst enemy.

 

I found this book to be exciting! In a similar way to M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Falkner used the near-future setting as a canvas for a horrifying technological scenario, which made the story feel surreal. Though not probable, many of the story’s events are possible. I could tell that the author put some serious effort into creating a realistic, believable universe. The little details provided while discussing, for example, the issues of game addiction, terrorism, and more sophisticated cyber defense systems helped hold everything together. It got me thinking about a lot of things I don’t normally think about. Teen fiction needs more of that!

I’d recommend this book to high school readers, since it contains a large amount of “computer-speak.” Falkner did a great job of explaining unfamiliar or uncommon terms and planting context clues, though sometimes it was a little much. Younger kids may find it difficult to relate to some of the characters (though they were wonderfully fleshed out and developed). For a 300-plus-page book, this was a fast read, but I had to be sure to read it thoroughly. Every detail was important, keeping me focused and into it.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but I enjoyed finding allegorical meaning in some parts of the book. I think it’s safe to say that the stories in most teen novels aren’t allegories, so when I started finding a deeper meaning I got excited! It’s just my interpretation, but I believe the issues explored in the story represent the Internet, and more specifically, social networking. Instant teen appeal, right? All the time the Internet becomes more social, gets more information, and therefore is, essentially, a collective intelligence of its own. We, as users, are a part of it, but it’s a resource rather than a part of ourselves. Though fictional (for now), the concept of neuro-headsets represents the next step in our information-hungry future, where having the world at our fingertips isn’t enough.

 

Sound good?  You buy it at Amazon HERE.

Intro to a Sci-Fi Universe, Part II

I promise this post won’t be as lengthy as the last.

This is the second of a still undetermined number of posts leading up to my science fiction that will be posted here.  One preliminary point about the story’s fictitious society that weren’t mentioned in the last post is that it has just transitioned into a level 1 society.  This means the people of the society control everything on their planet.  This includes weather and energy, and also means a global common tongue is emerging.  In this case that language is English.  According to science there should be millions of level 1 societies out there in space, yet there are none.  Our suspicion is that they destroyed themselves during the transition…

Selective Breeding & Eugenics

In this universe, parents have many choices to make before their child is born.
With advanced genetic technologies, parents can select genes from a talent pool to ensure their child a bright future in the area of their choice.  Of course children still have natural talents, but usually their parents tell them what they’ve been “programmed” to excel at so that “…they may find joy in something easy and enjoyable…” (Dr. Rico Sentalve, 2041)
Doctors scan parents for any common hereditary diseases and replace those mutated genes with normal ones from a relative (if any are available).  In the event the parents have no living relatives, they may select a willing donor with compatible genes.  Gene compatibility is determined by race, relations (if any) to the patient, and health of the donor and patient.

Smart Clothing

One of the most innovative inventions of the 30s (That’s 2030s) was “Smart Clothing”.  Virtually all articles of clothing became “smart” during this time period including shirts, sweaters, skirts, pants, formal wear, pajamas, hats, bracelets, and more, each with unique functions.  For example, smart bracelets keep track of pulse.  Sweaters and coats read body temperature and adjust accordingly.
Smart Clothing, completely wired to interact with the wearer, serves many practical uses.  It can recognize fever, fatigue, and dehydration, as well as make suggestions to the wearer via his/her A.R. feed.  It’s fully customizable with color and style options.  You can make your hat match your outfit, as well as remind it to keep track of your position and send it to friends so you can hang out after school.  Have a growth spurt?  No problem!  Smart Clothes automatically adjust to your height, length, width, and will get tighter or looser wherever you want them to.

Tick-Talk™

Much like cell phones in today’s world, many kids in this universe have Tick-Talks: The multi-talented digital watch.  It appears to be a small, tight, bracelet, but becomes a fully interactive holographic display when activated.  It displays the time, its current location, and the date.  People can connect their Tick-Talks to form networks of contacts as well as send voice messages.  One’s contacts scroll along the bottom of the display as a marquee.
In many ways Tick-Talks trump cell phones.  They’re easier to keep track of because most people never take them off, just shut them down when they go to bed.  Also they can not only send voice messages but also text and picture messages, all of which send notifications to the recipient’s A.R. feed.  Tick-Talks serve as handy tools, and as a convenient way to tap into social media.

Weather Influence

By definition, level 1 societies control everything on their planet.  Weather is no exception.  The scientists of this universe developed a machine which releases friendly gases into the atmosphere that speed up or slow down the formation of clouds.  This means weather predictions are normally 100% accurate.  Even in 2089 it’s not completely perfected, but science is getting close to gaining full control of the elements.
Because the weather is about 98% controlled by the people, new weather norms have been established.

1. It almost never rains in cities, only if someone important dies
2. Snow falls exclusively in the mountains for skiers to enjoy.
3. Temperatures in populated areas never leave the range of 40-85 degrees.  This is accomplished partly by variations of clouds that block sunlight, and by solar screens that orbit the Earth and block excess radiation, ions, etc.  these solar screens were put into orbit to slow and eventually halt climate change and to compensate for the still-weak power of a recently flipped magnetic field.

Before I end this there’s a piece of exciting news: It’s possible that some art for this could go up in the near future.  I have it, it’s just a matter of scanning.  I’ll try my hardest!