I'm always nervous when I read a book by someone I like. What if I don't like the book? I have a tendency to be honest about it, and I can prove it because I have lost good friends when I told the truth about where their manuscript was weak.
Luckily, Radio Freefall does not present me with any problems on that front. I'm completely wrapped up in it, and I can unreservedly recommend buying the book when it comes out. (Or pre order, if you're impatient.) Of course having important parts of the book set in my home state of New Mexico probably doesn't hurt.
The major characters in the book are:
Aqualung - frontman of the rocketing-to-the-top-of-the-charts band Snake Vendor, whose live music is enhanced by computer-analyzed audience feedback. Aqualung is 53 and has a mysterious past, and an urgent desire to keep it that way. He has a nack for nabbing eyeballs through the roiling mass of infotainment on the web, and is mourning being the old man amongst his hard-partying bandmates. (And yes, he's named after the Jethro Tull song.)
Walter Cheeseman - a combination of the worst parts of Bill Gates and Dick Cheney, Cheeseman is using his bazillion-dollar multinational network corporation WebCense to work toward the goal of Unification, making all nations into one, to be ruled of course by guess who.
Quin Taber - former New Jesus of WebCense and confidante of Cheeseman, hypergeek Taber committed the one inexcusable offense, being smarter than Cheeseman. Hurled out on his tail, he achieved a soft landing by making a computer immune to the world-spanning sentient virus Digital Carnivore for the mysterious LDL corporation (Low Density Lipoprotein?). Now LDL has given him a high-paying contract for five years to not make one for anyone else. Taber's my favorite character, because he a likable socially incompetent genius; for example, he came up with a brilliant algorithm for finding the perfect girlfriend for himself, but can't quite work one out to actually relate to her. At one point, after a less-than-successful attempt at hanky-panky, he says "I wish there was a textbook. I'm good at learning things from textbooks. Or a web site."
Jarpe is doing a good job of weaving together the two main plotlines involving Aqualung and Taber. I don't want to give anything away, because I want you to buy the book. But I'll probably write at least one spoiler-free post about it.
*Whoops! In the original title of this blog I called the book Radio Feedback, which was a typo. Sorry Matthew!