Saturday, 5 August 2017

Review: The Uploaded

The Uploaded The Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't read dystopian, as a rule, and it's a pretty firm rule. Nor do I generally like books with a high body count. But by the time I discovered that this book is both of those things, I'd been charmed by the voice of its viewpoint character. I finished it and even enjoyed it, despite the fact that it's not the sort of thing I usually like.

It's told from the flipside of the "Rapture of the Nerds," the technological advance that enables personalities to be uploaded. The conscious dead outnumber the living, who are their miserable slaves, maintaining the servers and trying to be the kind of people the dead will eventually vote into the paradisal afterlife - or, as it's known, the Upterlife. Most people's greatest ambition is to be dead; culture consists of an endless series of reboots of franchises that were popular when the oldest dead were alive, and anything creative is in the realm of the dead. In self-defence, the dead have forbidden the living from learning to program. The most excruciating suffering of the living is dismissed with the argument that they'll get over the trauma in two or three hundred years.

The main character is an orphan (thanks to a mutated plague), whose parents are so busy on their World of Warcraft-style quests in the Upterlife that they neglect him and his sister. Partly in order to protect his sister, and partly because he's just a rebellious person, he links up with a rebel underground and with Neo-Christian insurgents (who see the Upterlife as blasphemous) to take on the inventor of the Upterlife, who is permanently President of the United States.

It's over-the-top. It's funny, moving, tragic, and eventually triumphant, though at high cost for all the characters. It's cleverly and skilfully written. If I didn't dislike dystopian stories with a high body count so much, I would certainly be giving it five stars.

I received a copy from Netgalley for review.

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