I read this book about 29-Dec-2006. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1980. This note was last modified Monday, 01-Jan-2007 12:04:53 PST.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Mike's first novel; and the one we picked off the shelf for a random new author try, before we knew him.
I think it holds up extraordinarily well. The one thing that jars is that his network called "the web" is enough different from our "web" for it to jar. But this book was published in 1980, it's reasonable to read around that.
This is a big, complex book. It touches on the origins of their Web, the major powers within it, major corporate and government powers, the development of the main character, and many side issues. It's a Mike book, which means there's no danger of anything being painfully obvious, and lots of danger of things being painfully obscure.
For example, I don't understand why Aristide was involved with spinning the Atropos machine.
Then there's the question of why the web interface has those standard extensions not used by most people, and used clumsily by the highest-level official users. Designed to be hacked from day one? Or just designed for more bandwidth (there's one throwaway line about direct neural interface not being possible or acceptable or allowed or something) without a clear idea of how it would be used?
I think this is the first place I saw the idea of food aid impregnated with anti-fertility chemicals (3 years before Refugee, for example). It's an idea that would pretty much have to occur to anybody who thought about birth rates vs. death rates, I guess.
I don't really believe Aristide is that much better than all the other webspinners. It's a new art, it should be evolving, and the new young players should sometimes surpass their teacher, or grow independently to equal status. He's too central. His techniques for warding off the Hounds can't be taught, not the best ones, since they depend on a backdoor he programmed into the Hounds when he created them. The universe is too big for him to be that central.