Icicle, by Robert G. Williscroft [review]

Great science fiction writers like Robert G. Williscroft have the ability to explain fantastical concepts that you have never imagined, and make you say “Oh, of course. That makes sense.” In Icicle, Mr. Williscroft answers the obvious question of what happens to a cryogenically frozen head when it is thawed out and reawakened far in the future. The answer is that the consciousness of the human brain will be uploaded into an electronic matrix and will exist as an independent entity, disconnected from any corporeal body. And the electronic person, who was rich when he froze himself hundreds of years ago, is now richer than God.

This portion of the book is fascinating and explained in meticulous detail as to the tech and the non-Euclidian geometric existence of Braxton Thorpe, our intrepid ePerson. Thorpe develops relationships with the scientists who revived him and who help him explore his new world. A female scientist and her journalist friend play a particularly exciting role. (wink) Thorpe reaches out into the GlobalNet to explore the world, and into the orbital network of micro-satellites that provide power and communications to the Earth. It is an amazing and compelling journey.

From there, the story expands exponentially into geopolitics, the nature of existence, and the discovery of the existence of portals capable of transporting a person, or an ePerson, to far-away locations instantly. Who made them? Where are they now? Did they build the swarm of micro-satellites beyond the moon? I won’t spoil anything, but the story reaches to the farthest points of our solar system . . . and beyond. At each step of the way, the author explains the scientific principles involved with each new development and makes us believe that it could all be true. Hence, brilliant science fiction.

This very enjoyable read includes a cast of characters to whom we are introduced in the beginning, but the development of the relationships recedes into the background as the story continues. The events of the story become so large-scale that the advancement of the story arc overshadows the characters. The story then expands to a several-years scale that flashes by with minimal description. This is necessary for the plot, but it minimizes the exceptional detail of the early sections of the book that were so wonderfully compelling. There are also a few times when the scientific/technical explanations became (for me) a bit too detailed at the expense of the pacing of the rest of the plot. But these are minor quibbles.

By the end, there is a very large plot arc that will continue in the next book in the series, and I will be very happy to follow Thorpe and the other residents of Earth as they continue the adventure.

Icicle is a marvelous example of superior science fiction writing. It is extraordinarily well-edited and well-written, making it a pleasure to read and enjoy. I Recommend it for any sci-fi fan.

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