The Stratosphere: The Birth of Nostradamus- Brian Cox

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I enjoyed reading this science fiction adventure set in a perhaps actually soon to come time, in which mankind, or what is left of it, has prostituted itself to hedonistic pleasure. The doctrine of the modern right, of the selfish individual that has no cares for any less advantaged soul, is laid bare with a worst outcome. On-line digital space, has seduced nearly everyone at the cost of progress in, or even maintenance of, the real world. Time in reality is despised and avoided in favour of pretend life inside the computer’s generated parallel world. When the players aren’t in the machine themselves there, ‘ghosts’, still acting shadows of themselves, still are. For most people it isn’t even possible to know if those they interact with in digital space are really in the machine with them or not.

Meanwhile, in the real world pollution from the ‘3D printers’ that produce the technological hardware of civilisation, is destroying what little is left of the environment. The Professor, that enabled all this, literally reprogrammed human life, has seen the error of his ways, but who is left to listen? Have I said too much, creating spoilers? I hope not; I don’t believe I have. It took me a while to grasp all this necessary to understanding stuff, and I didn’t consciously miss any words.

The plot is exciting, drawing one relentlessly forward, while at times running a little short on wide background. The dynamic climax is terrific- but very rushed, as though the author was running out of time in an exam. That annoyed me immensely, as a bit of depth in some of the final scenes would really have added a lot. Was Cox already thinking ‘film script’ rather than book?

Another edit is certainly called for, with perhaps a bit of thought about how the reader could be interpreting the story. At times, I felt the author forgot the reader, leaving script sitting in his head. Poor editing aside, Cox is a very good descriptive writer. I can only give four stars for the book as is. Another couple of months work between editor and writer could make this a classic of modern science fiction- It potentially, really is that good. This is a case of modern publishing being just too easy, being short of ‘house’ content editors rattling every cage. I really enjoyed this book, which pulls together three or four recent SF themes. And as I say, with more work, this could end-up becoming a classic.

AMAZON LINK

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