Dielle immediately felt at home. He looked up. A floating platform eclipsed the sky, buy viagra its underside lighting up the faces of the people…..”

Slabscape: Reset is an interesting read. It is the first in the Slabscape novel series by S. Spencer Baker. The title refers to the setting of the series, the floating world of the “Slab”. This is an ultra modern metropolis floating through space towards the centre of the universe, the source of human kind. This distant district of space is believed by the ruling powers to be where humans go when they die.

Onboard the “Slab”, we have a true Orwellian society controlled by the overload A.I. system, “Big Sis”. Here everything is controlled, tracked and monitored by “Sis”. Into this world the plot unfolds, the second richest man in the world at the end of the 21st Century, freezes himself and enters the “Reset” programme. He is reborn/reset in this distant future as our protagonist, Dielle. Reset follows this man coming to term with who he is, and why he froze himself. Added to this, is the revelation that his reset is the subject of mass entertainment, and that he has become a major celebrity. There are several other story strains that weave seamlessly together. The dynamic of these, and the realism of this sci-fi world created by Baker make it a compelling first edition in the series.

Your flesh is a relic, a mere vessel. Hand over your flesh and a new world awaits you….

These words are uttered by the machine’s envoy to the Security Council at U.N. headquarters in the Animatrix: The Second Renaissance. They mark the end of free humanity and the establishment of the Matrix prototype. The Matrix emphasises the negative elements ofTranshumanism, but it is interesting to note that Reset also deals with Transhumanism. This is the term given to the process by humans can (and some believe will) merge with machines.

Why is this interesting, it is only sci-fi right? Not exactly. Transhumanism is an issue that is gathering evermore plausibility, and realism as our species rapidly speeds through the new technological advances of the 21st Century. In fact this subject has become source material for a copious number of novels, movies and video games over the past twenty years. The most successful and realistic of these is the 2011 video game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

There are a great many similarities between Reset and Human Revolution. All of the main characters in some way deal with the process of “augmentation”. It seems that they cannot live without these implants. Reset has a glossy coat over this serious moral issue, that is disturbing. Baker however does handle this issue with a great sense of realism and is very informed in his writing. This book is the first in a series of “webbacks”, that is paperbacks that are backed up by an online encyclopedia (freely available at http://slabscapedia.com).

In a lot of ways Slabscape: Reset can be seen as a positive spin on the “nightmare society” of the 1984. Baker discusses similar elements as Orwell: the interfacing with “Sis” via the eye augmentation, a “one world religion”, a cashless society etc. These are all portrayed as good things, and as essential to the growth of the humanity. This could be an attempt to mirror the approach of authors like Orson Scott Card in the Ender Saga. Or then again, it could also be a satire of this society. It is simply too early to tell with only the first book of the series.

The most enjoyable element of Reset is the comedy, the hardcore sci-fi issues are broken up with comedy. It reads very much like the stellar Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is clever and refreshing, but it also allows the story to engulf the reader.

I have mentioned that this is the first in a series, and with that in mind it delivers on all fronts. This is a nice surprise given the experience of this writer with the poor Star Wars: Outcast novel by Aaron Allston. In short, Outcast set out to establish the Fate of the Jedi series, but it failed. I am awaiting Slabscape: Dammit, unlike the Fate of the Jedi sequels for which I care nothing.

The sci-fi elements are counter balanced with sense of realism, of the world and the reaction of the characters to it. It also openly mocks itself, which helps new sci-fi readers a lot. Baker is aware of the story that he is trying to convey, and this allows him to blends it with both humour and love. If you are a fan of sci-fi novels, then I would highly recommend Slabscape: Reset. It had me hooked from start to finish. The interplay of characters, the issues it explores and the flow of the novel make it a nice surprise in the sci-fi genre. One that the reader will find both humorous and believable, you will have a hard time putting this one down.
 Darragh O’Connor