State of Mind is a post-cyberpunk science fiction thriller by Sven Michael Davison.
In the year 2030 you can eat all you want, take drugs and drink as much as you want without any negative side effects, you can call a friend, surf the web, listen to music, watch a film or even play a game without touching a single device. The price of this incredible advancement in technology? just a simple installation of the P-Chip in your brain, and your freedom...
After an unfortunate incident involving the arrest of a prominent member of Los Angeles society, Commander Jake Travissi is banned from law enforcement anywhere in the United States. The workaholic homicide cop spirals into depression...until he is given a rare second chance. The price? Volunteer for chip implantation and join Homeland Security’s experimental Enhanced Unit.
The grisly assassination of a prominent Nobel Laureate brings the newly formed Unit on the scene to investigate. But as the body count rises, Jake begins to realize that his actions, and even his thoughts, are not his own. Fighting to regain control of his own State of Mind, Jake finds himself embroiled in a global conspiracy to enslave the human race!
State of mind is a very mature look at the post-cyberpunk genre and the possible near future advancements in technology. Pursuing the effects this technology could have on society and the inevitable rise of the dystopian state. It's very visually acute and has an energetic pace. The authors style is very well developed and you can tell he has an experienced background in the film industry, evident in the almost screenplay style the prose possess.
I love the use of the future technology here, all of it is based on research and development that is going on right now, like the automatic self driving car (being introduced in London Heathrow Airport car parks this year and trialled by Google earlier in the year) the maglev trains (already in use in Japan) and the all in one technology device which merges computer, mobile, games machine, TV etc all into one device that can be altered to suite it's use (something that is seen as the ultimate path the smart phone will take).
Then there is the P-Chip, a tiny chip that is inserted at the base of your skull and automatically graphs itself to the various parts of the brain allowing the user instant access to Internet, TV, Games and just about anything else. These chips also regulate the body so that harmful toxins are blocked and can even eliminate aggressive behavior.
Much of this technology is currently being discussed and debated in reference to the much vaunted technological "Singularity" event. This is essentially a hypothetical situation where rapidly accelerating progress reaches a point that causes a radical change to take place, altering humanity in a significant manner. This can take the form of machines becoming sentient (Judgement day of the Terminator series is a good example of this) or humans becoming cybernetically linked with technology and becoming super-human (as the P-Chip is the first step towards).
Of course it isn't difficult to imagine how the government could use such a device as the P-Chip to control the populous and how these devices could even be hacked by unscrupulous individuals to control a person at will and this is exactly what this novel explores.
There are a great cast of characters that really help to bring the story to life and as the events unfold the pace becomes faster, the plot deeper and it becomes almost impossible to drag yourself away.
Due to the amount of future tech in use here the novel does rely quite heavily on exposition in the early chapters however this is actually handled very well and doesn't get dragged down too much into the minutiae of the advancements but settles for a more rounded overview. There is also the use of flashbacks however again this is kept fairly minimal. As such the pace and plot don't suffer as much as they could have but it does make you wonder how much was really needed.
State of Mind asks the question, just how much more freedom are we willing to sacrifice in the name of progress, for convenience. An intelligent, thought provoking, cinematic post-cyberpunk thriller and a great read.
Written on 20th February 2011 by Ant.
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