Signal to Noise Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 1999
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Eric Nylund's fourth novel is touted by the publisher as "hyperpunk," but what is that, exactly? Is it the spastic child of cyberpunk? The willful offspring poking Father Gibson in the eye? While Signal to Noise introduces some fascinating virtual sleights of hand, the overall impression is of a continuation of the nano-techno-cyberpunk genre rather than a leap in evolution to a new form of fiction.
This latest offering from the former Microsoft employee will undoubtedly thrill writers of code and the romantics who call themselves hackers. Nylund's main characters are affixed with permanent implants allowing instant access to cyberspace; a virtuality so vivid that they often prefer the virtual over the reality. The trouble begins when Jack Potter, an encryption expert who's done some shady work for the NSO, finds and decodes a message buried in old astronomical data. Contact with the outreaching alien and information bartering result. Unfortunately, someone else is watching, too. "Down the hall, bars rattled. It was a nice touch. Cold churned in Jack's stomach, diffused down his legs and up his spine. It was synthetic fear generated by the bubble. He fought it. DeMitri took a set of keys from his pocket, picked one out, then opened a cell door ... 'Alcatraz'--he spread his arms in a grand gesture--'is a reflection of what's on your mind, Jack. Feeling guilty about something?'"
The brilliance of Signal to Noise is in the science: the idea of looking out into the swirling sea of the cosmos and finding patterns hidden amongst the static hiss of the births and deaths of stars. At times, the math itself has more depth than many of the characters, who tend to be reminiscent of stock figures in pulp fiction. Which isn't to say that there's no fun to be had here. As the novel progresses, the ante is upped until Jack is bartering the alien for Earth itself. An extra implant crammed into Jack's brain against his will is starting to burn out his optical nerve, and he's no longer sure who his friends are. Log on to Signal to Noise to find out who the bad guys are, and who, if anyone, is going to survive. --Jhana Bach --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The future that Jack Potter lives in is one where the corporate-shark mentality has filtered into every aspect of life: from the beginning of a school career, students learn to lie, cheat, and steal in order to get the best grade. The most successful, and ruthless, are implanted with devices that link their brains to powerful computers. Over the years, Jack has done very well, climbing all the way to the prestigious Academe of Pure and Applied Sciences, where he is in a bitter fight with a rival for tenure. Using a decryption program stolen from his rival, he detects a signal in the background noise of space. He and two friends enter into an information-trading partnership with an alien race that promises amazing and potentially deadly rewards. Soon the three find themselves involved in a no-holds-barred power struggle between corporations, governments, and interstellar life-forms to see which will proffer the ultimate takeover bid. Eric Robbins --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
I liked the earth based technology. The virtual world of the bubbles was well described, and details like the handgun being controlled by implant were well written. Several gift technologies are given by the aliens and i seemed to dislike most of them, the enzyme especally. These unfortunatly were major plot devices.
Jack, our main character, spends the entire book running from one disaster to another and never really gets a grip on what implications his actions have. Various forces seem to be working for and gainst him. All of the characters seem to switch from being an ally of jacks at some point to being an enemy. This makes for some interesting reading. Its much more like reading a novel about spies and their double crosses instead of science fiction. It bothered me that only jack of all the characters escaped from being dramaticly changed by the end of the book.
The one major problem i had was the plot device of the enzyme. The book describes it a making a persons personality more intense. Unfortunalty as most of the characters undergo their transformation, completly new personalities emerge instead of those we were introduced to only a few pages before. The most glaring example being Isabel. She was an electronic archologist who seems to have fallen into her job and seemed quite content with the status quo. After her transformation she is revealed to be a cold bloodthirsty driven women who will stop at nothing for profit.Read more ›
The novel itself has logical holes - our supposedly adult hero is more like a babe in the woods, actually, he knows nothing about the world he lives in. His friend from outside the US, the Zero character, does not let on that the Great Wall (ask the author) is cutting off the US, and not China, from the outside world, and so on, and so forth. However, when the action gets quick and dirty, I was tempted to forgive Nylund a lot, even his jejune concepts of world politics. Hence the 4 stars (never 5, though).
Eos has promoted this novel as "hyperpunk," but they have never said exactly what this means. It suggests some kind of relationship with cyberpunk, but this Signal to Noise doesn't really have a cyberpunk feel, even if some of the technology is similar. I don't think that there is any need to create a new subgenre for this book. It's a science fiction novel.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is genre fiction people. If you want depth in a character read Henry James.
There is just enough character definition since the plot is the main focus here. Read more
Amazon relentlessly recommeded this book through its A.I. Shaky recommendation. Characters- couldn't care less. Terrible character development. Read morePublished on April 26 2004 by Marlon Jackson
What drew me into the book was the audacity of the concepts.
The book gathers speed as it goes, it starts out as... Read more
This is one of those books that, as you turn the page, you keep saying to yourself, "no way, this would never happen," and yet you keep reading and reading and reading. Read morePublished on May 23 2003 by MCF
Amazon referred this book to me as one that William Gibson fans liked. If that's how you found it, keep looking-- although I don't doubt that anybody who likes this book probably... Read morePublished on April 10 2003 by Amazon Customer
Although I thought the writing was too technical at times, it was a fascinating journey. The ending was a bit disappointing and judging from the reviews I'm contemplating NOT... Read morePublished on March 26 2003
Nylund throws down a great premise and then blasts you with all of these concepts of bubbles, VR, and even some hard science. Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2002 by Matt Wen
Nylund really did a great job with this book. As a programmer and amatuer physicist, I really enjoyed the descriptions put into the book. Read morePublished on June 25 2002 by Colin H Barrett