I’ve been listening to a lot of Die Antwoord lately because as a late-30s, married Hispanic male who only drives Japanese imports, I’m obviously their target demographic. Like every single one of my friends, I hadn’t heard of Die Antwoord until I saw them in Chappie. Then I checked out their music and got seriously hooked. Now I can’t stop watching their videos and blasting Doos Dronk every time I get the weepies. Wait, no, that doesn’t sound right. It was while listening to Doos Dronk for the 117 thousandth time that I boarded a train of thought that went straight to HateMyself-ville. I’ll explain.
Perion Synthetics is ambitious, especially when compared with Daniel Verastiqui’s prior novel, Veneer. It covers more characters, complexities, and plot twists, all while maintaining the same sense of humor. Verastiqui has a vivid imagination and a knack for realizing complexities in plot and character. Following the story one character at a time, Perion Synthetics imagines a world where Vinestead International has an oppressive grip on the population through its pervasive (and seemingly unavoidable) technology monopoly. Perion Synthetics is the only company with the resources to challenge Vinestead’s dominance. An aggregator (akin to a reporter) is allowed into Perion City for the first time to witness and report on his findings, and things just get crazy from there. That’s about as far as I can get into the story without major spoilers. Some exposition was cumbersome, while other times characters seemed one-dimensional. Fortunately, this does not occur often and does not detract from a fun read. Perion Synthetics is a fast-paced read and is jam-packed with content. It never dulls, never fails to surprise.
Cyberpunk and Virtual Reality Meets Snapchat My favorite thing about Xronixle was definitely the concept of the immersive virtual world and it’s ramifications on society. It was interesting to see Verastiqui’s early views of such a world and the toll it would take on those most involved with it. I can see a great number of parallels between the inhabitants of the virtual reality and the world of today’s smartphone-addicted citizens. While the plot and story were interesting albeit amateurish (definitely to be expected with a very early work like this); I definitely enjoyed the way the characters and the world were brought to life. I could see the imagery playing out as if it were a “birth of the internet” era cyber-thriller blockbuster a la “The Matrix” or “Johnny Mnumonic”. It brought back fond memory of the younger me’s interest in cyber-punk novels and my time playing Netrunner. I’m looking forward to starting the next one.