Everyone thought the terrorist had completely destroyed the space station where the first faster-than-light spaceship was built. Actually, the survivors were implemented as softlife in the computers, and years later they and their virtual descendants live in a thriving but isolated community. Jason1, one of the few who used to be flesh and blood, doubts that this incorporeal existence really qualifies as life. But Iooi, a young native softlife, considers her kind an evolutionary step beyond biology, and three-dimensional space an annoying abstraction.
A spaceship arrives, and the two of them stow away in its computer, intending to establish ties with the rest of humanity. But the ship’s crew is evasive about why they came and what their plans are. And the experimental spacecraft, lost since the attack on the space station, has returned, carrying an unexpected threat the softlife may be uniquely qualified to fight. Working with other softlife, an old friend, and the intimidating Space Force general Heather Lacey, Jason1 must take on terrorists, truly malicious software, and his own self-doubts.
When terrorists attack the space platform where the worlds first faster than light jump ship, the Wilbur Wright, is being built and readying for launch, only the crew of technicians survive. Though a compromised oxygen system and lack of food gives them little time and rescue does not appear to be coming. So the crew take their chance on an experimental idea by the genius Amos and choose to leave their human bodies to be uploaded into the computer system. They survive the transfer, but life is different in the soft life. They live and maintain the station and even have generations of offspring, as the perceived time in the softlife is much faster than actual time.
When a strange ship docks with the broken station, the young Iooi partners with Jason1, one of the original crew members, to try and reach out to Earth. THough the return of the Wilbur Wright and human complications keep everything from going smoothly.
I love science fiction and this was a great interesting and unique to me story. I have read about the idea of uploading the human mind to computer networks before, but this take was one I had never seen. Throw in the human politics and you have a book mixed up and ready to keep you on your toes.
The author writes in a way that grips the attention and makes the story flow well. I did not want to put it down. The characters had so much personality, even those with no true form. The story flowed and kept me engaged without being predictable. I would gladly read more from this author.
4.5 out of 5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James R. Hardin will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win.
James R. Hardin received his first rejection from a major publisher when he was 11 years old and has been writing fiction intermittently ever since. Softlife is his first novel, though certainly not his last. James supports himself and his family as an engineer in the R&D department of a major turbomachinery manufacturer, where he engages in aerodynamic design, computational fluid dynamics analyses, and battle with temperamental computers. When not writing or engineering, he often plays or composes music, usually on a piano or synthesizer. James lives in western Pennsylvania with his wife, a varying number of sons depending on who’s home, and a lazy dog. You can find out more about James and his writing, as well as download a few of his musical compositions, at his website www.jamesrhardin.com.
“Hey, don’t get me wrong, Amos was brilliant,” Jason1 said. “But anybody could make a mistake. He was only human.”
Well, that was literally true, but there was no need to be insulting. But 1001101110 just said quietly, “I suppose.”
“Anyway, miss—what did you say your name was?”
Jason1 gave her a blank look. “What kind of name is that for a young woman?”
“Some of us young softlife have given up the old convention of using a traditional Carbon name and a sequence number,” 1001101110 explained. “We feel it makes more sense to just use our binary pointer number in the population database as a unique identifier.”
“It sounds like something a compiler threw up,” said Jason1. “Look, it’s hard for me to get my old Carbon head around a name like that. How about if I just take the first few digits and call you Iooi for short?”
“Why would you—” But then she remembered the Carbon fascination with visual appearances, and she got it. “Oh, right, the numerals look like letters if you write them in a graphics file. How, um, clever. Very well, call me that if you must. As a young softlife, I’m flexible enough to adapt.”
“Oh, and as an old human, I’m just stuck in my programming?” Jason1 said. He laughed at her, then abruptly turned serious. “But I suppose a fellow piece of software like me will never be able to explain to you what it means to be human.”