Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Adrenergic!" by Sebastian A. Corn

Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Publisher: Millennium Press
The review is based on a bought copy of the book

Sebastian A. Corn is one of the most important Romanian science fiction authors, with 7 novels awarded by the Romanian speculative fiction community and with important appearances on the speculative fiction magazines. “Adrenergic!” is a novella first published in 1994 in “Jurnalul SF” (SF Journal) and printed this year in its own volume.

In the future, in South Sabrata, Tamerlan Banks, the honorific director of the United T-Skell Spaces company, is dissatisfied with his new position, being an honorific director means a more respected and a better financial rewarded position, but no power of decision. Jealous on Hugh Secada, the new executive director of the company, for his new position and for marrying Priscilla Ydriss, Tamerlan plans to show his invaluable knowledge of the virtual reality and to discredit his rival.

“Adrenergic!” is a cyberpunk novella and one in which Sebastian A. Corn proves to be a very talented and imaginative author. The world created by Corn is very interesting and its concepts appealed to me the instance I discovered them. Everything in South Sabrata, the setting of the novella, is improved with biotechnological implants, which are modified live tissues through genetically engineering. And these implants work as a spying system as well, since almost every street, building and piece of furniture can sense and identify a human presence through different senses, be it visual, auditory, olfactory or tactile. Humans may benefit from these biotechnological implants too, the main character Tamerlan Banks has one, but they are rather seen as rebellious acts.

On the other hand we have the virtual reality, where every structure present in the real world is sustained by microorganisms, turboskells, in order to work. The new and improved turboskells are the work of Tamerlan Banks, but these ones tend to break the agreements they reach with the humans and build new virtual spaces that slow the system. The interaction between the realities is made through the spacefors, humans that go into tanks full with normal saline solution connected to cables and communicating with the virtual reality. But the humans who spent too much time as spacefors reached a vegetative condition.

The novella follows the conflict between Tamerlan Banks and Hugh Secada, a conflict that goes from the real world into the virtual reality and has at its core the desire to control the turboskells. “Adrenergic!” has a steady rhythm, Sebastian A. Corn managing to keep a steady pace from the beginning until the end. However, I find the second part of the novella to be a bit too flat and a bit repetitive. The conflict reaches an end that is quite predictable and that didn’t offer me any surprises. Also, Sebastian A. Corn uses a language throughout his story that I can define as hard. I slowly engaged into his novella because Corn doesn’t explain any notion to the reader and therefore every concept has to be learned from the bits of information scattered along the story. In my opinion this aspect might drive a few readers away from the novella.

I admit that I enjoy more fantasy literature than the science fiction one, but I like exploring the second from time to time. I have to admit also that from the sub-genres of science fiction cyberpunk appeals the least to me, with only a few pieces that stick to my memory. Still, Sebastian A. Corn’s “Adrenergic!” is a novella that reminded me of the works of the heavy names of science fiction, especially Philip K. Dick, and of the Matrix movies, but you have to consider that Corn’s novella is written with 5 years before the first Matrix movie. And although on the personal level “Adrenergic!” didn’t offer me the best of readings I believe that the fans of science fiction in general and cyberpunk in particular will find it to be a valuable piece of fiction.


Adele said...

sounds cool. I read more Fantasy than sci fi but when i'm in the mood I love a good sci fi.

Mihai A. said...

Adele, I love that too, although not very often :)

Skandalouz said...

I've just started reading it!

"Corn doesn’t explain any notion to the reader and therefore every concept has to be learned from the bits of information scattered along the story. In my opinion this aspect might drive a few readers away from the novella."

that's already true :(

More: I find it having too many epithets (never missing) for every noun used in the novelette. That's tiring and the writing seems somehow forced...

Mihai A. said...

There are quite some epithets there indeed. It is a bit difficult to manage the book, but it has an interesting story :)