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TwinmakerReview - Twinmaker
by Sean Williams
Harper Audio, 2013
Review by Christian Perring
Oct 7th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 41)


Twinmaker is a young adult science fiction story featuring, of course, a teenage girl heroine.  Clair is 17 years old, living in a world where there are no more planes or cars, because everyone travels by D-Mat, which is a form of teletransportation.  People can go wherever they want, and there are also machines to make whatever objects and food they want, so there is no poverty.  It seems a bit boring at first: Clair and her best friend Libby go to a party and she ends up kissing Libby's boyfriend.  It looks like that this unabridged audiobook will be 12 hours of teen romance. Thankfully, author Sean Williams gradually takes us into a story of adventure and intrigue: it turns out that there is a movement convinced the teletransportation process is dangerous, because it can damage people.  But the government says it is entirely safe.  At first Clair is sure that the extremists are just paranoid, but then Libby starts acting strangely, after saying she used a process called "Improvement" to get rid of her birthmark. Clair starts talking to one of the Stainers to find out what suspicions he has about the problems with the D-Mat process.

There are some interesting ideas here, but the cast of characters is large and the plot moves from one weird development to another.  The fantastic parts of life in this future come to be explained by such abstract strangeness that it makes no sense.  So while the 500 page book is packed full of plot twists, it lacks in characterization or real exploration of the central ideas. It takes endurance to get to the end of the book, and then you discover that this is just the first in a series of books.

The most interesting part of the book is not really the D-Mat theme, but rather the way that everyone accesses information.  They are hooked up to a network in their heads, and they can see their messages through implants they access in their fields of vision.  They can see what others are saying about them and they can get a sense of how much they are being looked at by others, which seems to be a bit like how close to the top answer a website gets in Google rankings.  This is the one part of the book that makes at least some sense throughout the book, and we get some idea of what it might be to be so completely integrated into the net.

The reading of the book by Katie Koster is good: she keeps the energy going and mostly the voices of characters are distinct, although there are so many characters that is a difficult task. 

 

© 2014 Christian Perring

 

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York

 


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