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Off-Line

by Lawrence Goldstone

ISBN 0312292473 / 9780312292478 / 0-312-29247-3
Publisher St. Martin's Griffin
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

If it bothers you that the pizza delivery place maintains a database filled with phone numbers, addresses, and favorite toppings, consider the future as depicted in Lawrence Goldstone's dystopian thriller Offline. In the technologically advanced 2020s, no one needs to drive a car, decide what to wear, decorate a house, take out the trash, or mow the lawn. AutoDrive, ColorMatch, DecoTech, LandscapeMaster, and TrashMaster handle all such quotidian details. And no one--not even a cop--has to think about much of anything. Aside from facing the sheer ennui inspired by such a system, humanity is fast approaching obsolescence, as machines grow smarter and do more and more on behalf of their titular masters. At least one fellow, however, is none too pleased about being replaced by a motherboard: Detective Phil Gagliardi. That's Phil Gagliardi Jr., son of the eponymous internal affairs investigator who figured in Goldstone's first novel, Rights.

When Gagliardi gets the call to investigate the suspicious death of a high-level employee of the powerful MicroLink corporation, he instinctively knows there is more to this murder than meets the eye. But in an altogether online, plugged-in world, it's hard to keep your instincts to yourself--and even harder to catch the real killer. In his search for answers, Gagliardi turns to Phil Sr. and to the two brilliant young men (both suspects themselves) who started MicroLink, Mitchell Padgett and Sulimanijir Patel. He also stumbles upon a group dedicated to reining in technology and in doing so must confront the age-old question of whether the end justifies the means. Goldstone's vision of the future is not particularly imaginative (let's hope a few products and systems avoid using "Auto" and "Master" in their names), and perhaps that's the point: as machines think more like humans, will we become more mechanical? This one should warm the cockles of any Luddite heart. --Gwen Bloomsburg [via]