Reviewer Richard Bunning: Richard is an author of books ranging from speculative fiction, (SF), to adaptations of neoclassical plays. He is a national of the UK and NZ and lives in Switzerland. He is active on Twitter, @RichardBunning, often as an indie writers’ advocate. Richard reviews here because he knows the importance to both authors and readers of finding independent opinions. You can find more information about Richard by clicking on his WEBSITE
Author: Mark McClelland
Author: Mark McClelland
Upload grabbed my attention early on and wouldn’t let go. Having teenage children, in a society where all YAs seem to live half-way towards the world of McClelland’s main character Raymond, I had no trouble in seeing this as a very near future story. This science fiction contains plenty of technology, but it is anchored firmly in speculative and metaphysical science fiction arenas.
Technology has just arrived at the point when human mental complexity, brain memory and an accurate digital physical copy can be accurately reproduced and uploaded into an electronic world. In other words, total digital maps of all that we are can be transferred into a created environment populated by whatever programmers choose to build. Many of this story’s characters’ lives have become increasingly dominated by “gaming”. Now they can really be part of the game.
This intriguing technology has led Raymond, who lives on the edge of some sort of autism spectrum disorder, to plan to escape from the real world, into his own creation. Thus he hopes to escape both a criminal past, and his expectation of a bleak biological future. Then real world love starts to corrupt Raymond’s plans, through its inevitable psychological disruption. At the same time, political, criminal and police activities are upsetting his timing.
This is a full length eBook of high quality writing. We start with Raymond in an orphanage, which setting aside some of the props could be in the present day. This is a plot that will hold those often put off by science fiction. The reader isn’t expected to anchor themselves in some technological and distant fantasy, but to simply see the technologies we have stretched further. What makes us all tick now is every bit as relevant as what may or may not make us tick in the future. Upload has a satisfactory end, with a tantalizing unresolved plot element that begs a sequel. I am looking forward to McClelland’s future work.
So what faults can I dream up? I can think of none that really caused any grief. Nothing is totally original, is any story ever? Some of the insignificant complexities of the plot seemed to miss me, not that that is anything new. No, I can only dwell on positives. This is a well worthwhile download for a broad readership. At this point (November 2012) I not aware of a paper copy, which I think is a pity for those of you that prefer a traditional read.
I loved the way that McClelland projected some of our current problems, on a quite feasible trajectory, into the future. We can all relate to this science fiction. I was so easily glided into Raymond’s mind by McClelland’s craft, a mind that has built a battlefield for his own competing hopes and ambitions, a projected mind that became an electronic world, in which many “real” personas and an array of “artificial” ones struggled. We see a manmade world in which man can play at being God, can even play at immortality. Well, at least he can believe in life that can’t be ended by aging, but just possibly can be by having the cleaning bot accidentally turning off the electricity.