Disruption (Singularity’s Children #2), by Toby Weston

Disruption is the direct continuation of Denial; we follow Stella Sagong, a young entrepreneur esacping poverty; Niato, the filthy rich idealist; Keith, corporate wage slave turned soldier; and Segi and Zaki, who escaped with their mother to the Islamic Caliphate, which stretches out from Pakistan to Morocco in this alternative world closely resembling ours.

Stella is CEO at Sagong Marine where she works with dolphins and other animals, for example Spray, the very fish-focused seagul. The humans and animals can understand each other through an advanced brain scanning technique which translates ideas to symbols. Via their Spex, a kind of ar/vr system, Stella keeps in contact with the brothers Segi and Zaki, who rise up in their hacker clan by setting up thousands of Mesh nodes in the technologically challenged Caliphate. Off radar they also work on BugNet, biotech which allows them to communicate with animals and see through their eyes. Not to worry: the animals are getting a fair pay.

Counting less than 200 pages this book is braiding adventure with world-building in a very balanced way. The interesting thing is that while the ideas may seem far fetched they are perhaps more realistic than we think. A dramatis personæ and glossaries on tech and terms used are available on the author’s web site [tobyweston.net].

Singularity’s Children is a fine example of hard scifi (plausible technology and no broken natural laws) combined with action and authentic British humour: “The end of the world was years ago, and it made us lots of money,” we can hear the owner of the ubiquitous BHJ firm saying. Also, one chapter is called ‘Cyborg Narwhal’ which in itself would be a reason to read this book.

The book could have been fleshed out a bit by elaborating on the characters (they are very ok though) and more evenly distributing the action. It sometimes feels like two or three separate parts but the overall idea of disruption being the second phase of change in general is illustrated very nicely.

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