Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Book Review: 'Zero' by Jacob Whaler
“You’re a genius, Wilson. You found the ghost.”
Author Jacob Whaler has lived and worked in New York City, Tokyo and Los Angeles, but now keeps his writing station secret. He states ‘I have experienced the power of words in my own life, and my belief in that power to fire our imaginations and lift our minds to new heights pushes me to write. In my professional life, I've used words to build meaning into arcane corporate documents that control the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars around the globe. Words are powerful. But I believe they can move more than just money. Words can move minds. That’s why I've become a writer of novels. Back in high school, I learned to program computers. It's a different kind of writing, a different kind of language. But like any good writing, it's a string of written instructions that has an effect on the real world. I'd like to think that the words of my novels are like computer code for human brains.’ His studied philosophy and law and deals in the corporate world sing words to control the flow of money around the globe. ZERO is his eighth novel.
Jacob’s ability to make surreal/science fiction/fantasy palpable, visual and credible is one of his many strong points as a writer. From the opening page he instills that sense of commitment from his reader - Red lights flared in the control room. Link’s eyes fluttered open, jarred out of half-sleep. A loud siren cycled up and down. Uniformed soldiers rushed to their stations behind him. “Got her!” Wilson yelled. “What’d you find?” Link muttered, his mind still in a fog. “The ghost girl, boss! Surveillance drones just nailed her!” Wilson raised his arms in victory and let out a whoop. “After all these months, we finally got her.” “Are you kidding?” Link leapt out of his chair, pulse pounding with sudden clarity. “Throw it onscreen!” “Working on it, boss.” Link couldn’t believe his luck. As the commander on deck, he’d get credit for catching the girl and stopping the rebellion. There’d be a big bonus. Whipping out his jax, he couldn’t resist a quick glance at his account balance. It was about to jump, maybe enough to bump him up a notch in the rankings. “Don’t let the Fringe scum get away!” Link roared, liking the way his voice filled the control room. He couldn’t wait to be the first to see her dirty Fringe face. “Get a close-up. I want to see her eyes when she gets destroyed.”
Terse but accurate, the plot is as follows: ‘He won the election. He ended democracy. He built a wall of glass 1,000 meters high. Now, 150 years later, his descendants have infinite wealth and control the Sanctuary, a high-tech paradise for the rich where money equals rank. She’s from the slum. She has no money or rank. She vows to tear down the wall and end the nightmare. Her weapon? Zero.’
Creative, addicting and beautifully written, ZERO establishes the solid stance in writing science fiction that challenges imagination and intellect. And this volume could not be more timely in topic! This is a very solid book.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.