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Signal to Noise Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 1999

3.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (June 1 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380792923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380792924
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #396,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

From Booklist

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Jan. 7 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was bit dissapointed with this book. I picked this book up for a story about contact with alien civilizations. What i got for aliens was contact with a paranoid recluse and a business shark that would be most at home in a brokerage firm. Not what i had i mind.
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
First of all, the guys at Avon Eos definitely DO need a new editor for Nylund - in my paperback there were some spelling errors, and some words omitted (I guess they were omitted, as the grammar did not quite make sense). Plus, there was a part of the novel repeated at the end of the book, in the "teaser" section (as if some brain-dead body would run and buy another copy), with excerpts from some other novels - and the criteria for selecting those were totally beyond me. I mean, a fantasy game novelization (Feist's "Krondor. The Betrayal")? Spare me.
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).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Signal To Noise is a fun, fast book. Nylund's style is completely readable, and he frequently had me on the edge of my seat--this is the kind of novel where you can read two hundred pages in one sitting. The plot is suitably complex, and some of Nylund's ideas are quite interesting. All in all, I enjoyed it a lot...but as my star rating indicates, there are major problems. The protagonist is decently well-developed, but all the other characters are quite thin. When one character is supposed to be undergoing a significant personality change, it has no impact on the reader because we barely know what she was like originally. The writing style is also uneven; there are some very clumsy sentences in here, as well as some misused words. (Nylund must need a new editor--one would think that a good one wouldn't leave untouched mistakes that a high school student could catch.) Finally, some aspects of Nylund's future don't quite ring true. He falls into the commmon trap of always using physical metaphors for computer functions, even though computers don't, and probably never will, work in the same way that the physical world does. The different types of aliens were also able to communicate with humanity much too easily. Image files constructed by one operating system aren't even always readable by another OS designed by the same species, let alone a different one!
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was exciting to read, and like some of the other reviewers I had a hard time putting it down. The story moves along briskly, mixing equal parts mystery, politics, and technology. The plot is thought-provoking, and the device of an heard-but-not-seen alien adds a layer of mystery not usually seen in first-contact scenarios. Little details about the book are annoying, though. At several points I audibly exclaimed my disapointment with the writing; there are many sentences that would have earned a rebuke in a freshman composition class. A few plot twists aren't believable or even understandable in terms of the characters' motivations. The characters themselves are paper-thin, and their emotional detachment, after the Really Bad Thing happens, left me in no hurry to buy the sequel. The main character rushes around rescuing people at the end of the story, but this line of action is poorly integrated into the plot, as if the editor told Nylund he better go back and add more people for the sequel. All in all, S2N is a fun read, but I can't help wondering if another round of polish and editing could have turned it into a classic.
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