I just noticed that Colleen R. Cahill has suddenly reviewed David Louis Edelman's Infoquakefor Fast Forward, (the local cable TV show devoted to science fiction based in the Washington, DC area, not my anthology series of the same name). Colleen praises the world-building, which rather than being a dystopia or a utopia, is realistic enough to encapsulate both. Although she doesn't invoke it, her split the middle future reminds me of Warren Ellis' comic book Transmetropolitan,which I always loved for the way it presented the future as neither wonderful nor terrible but both simultaneously (you can be genetically engineered to swim with dolphins for a day, in a world where poor Irish children are sold as food). This sort of all-too-believable future is what drew me to Infoquake to begin with, though I agree with Colleen when she says, "As interesting as his world is, it is Edelman's characters that make this book shine. Natch might be good at bio/logics, but he mostly seems motivated by revenge: as his friend Horvil points out, Natch only seems to succeed when he is beating someone else. The interactions between Natch, Horvil and Jara (who is both attracted to and disturbed by her boss) are volatile, complex and very, very realistic. It is easy to believe in these people, and even feel like maybe this is a future that is not too far away."
I'm glad Collen stressed the strength of Dave's characters, because sometimes I think people in the SF genre have a hard time with protagonists who do bad things. I don't know why this is - though I suspect it stems from decades of conditioning in SF television, all the way back to Roddenberry and his attempts to have drama without interpersonal conflict. And the strange pressures of a society that want its basketball players, boxers, and rock stars to be role models as well. You know, when you look back at classic "heroes", all the way back to the Greeks, they are a pretty flawed bunch, and it's their flaws, as much as their strengths, that give us such wonderful narratives. I love Natch, because, hey, I've worked for Natch. And because I think brilliant-but-flawed and obsessively-driven people are fascinating (Batman, Spock, James Bond, the aforementioned Spider Jerusalem, many more....) In the meantime, SF television has certainly come along, with post-HBO shows like Battlestar Galactica. But I still think some people conflate interesting with admirable. A character need only be the former, not the latter. Of course, a well-rounded character can move from one to the other too, and remember, I've already read MultiReal.