Superhighway (Superhighway Trilogy book 1) by Alex Fayman (book review).

January 6, 2016 | By | Reply More

It’s not often you get a book that’s classified as Science Fiction but when you dig into it, it needs a bit of good old fashion magic to make things work. ‘Superhighway’ tells the story of Alexander Fine (Alex) who’s an intelligent young man who’s been raised in an orphanage. Alex’s life changes beyond his wildest dreams when the orphanage gets given some computers. He discovers that if he unplugs the network cable and holds it tightly he can electroport himself to any destination connected to the internet. Not only can Alex traverse the superhighways of the intranet, he can visualise them and the electronic archives of data that are connected to it. The highways appear as tunnels and the archives as shelves. There are packets of light shooting all over the place including into and out of the shelves of data. Of course, Alex moves through the network very quickly, possibly at the speed of light although he can pause his journey along the highway when he wants to.

Superhighway-1

Using his new found abilities, Alex leaves the orphanage in Los Angeles and eventually ends up penniless and without any identification papers in Amsterdam. Because he desperately needs some money, he decides to play Robin Hood and targets a well-known criminal. Using his new found abilities, he’s able to access the mobsters lair by electroporting himself in using one of the criminal’s PCs as the destination target. Now. later on in the story. we learn that Alex’s body has a genetic modification allowing it to be broken down and transmitted over the internet. All well and good but what about his clothes, jewellery and the stuff in his pockets? That all goes, too, although it’s never explained how, so I’m surmising it must be a bit of the good old-fashion magic I spoke of earlier.

It’s not the only time a bit of magic is required. Alex’s adventure in Amsterdam did not go to plan and a run in with the criminals leaves Alex injured and his new girlfriend in a worse state. It’s at this point he decides to target the bank accounts of not only the gangster from Amsterdam but an extremely wealthy criminal Russian oligarch as well.

Now this is where things get a bit strange. When in the network Alex is able to download whole shelves of data direct into his brain for later analysis. He’s also able to manipulate and change bank accounts (mostly, transferring money out) without any prior knowledge of how banking systems work. Must be more of that old magic at work here.

The basic idea and plot of the book are good but I think the electroporting doesn’t really work for me. As explained in the book, it occurs when Alex touches the conductive material in the network cable he’s unplugged from the PC. OK, I get that, but what does he emerge from at the other end? The cable is plugged into the computer. There’s also the question of taking his clothes and belongings with him. One of the things I happen to know about networks is that when I send a file or photograph then its broken down into chunks by the computer I’m using and sent a chunk at a time to the destination computer. It doesn’t exist as a whole until the destination computer rebuilds it a chunk at a time but Alex seems to be a complete entity while in the network retaining his consciousness during the process. There’s no attempt to explain this, it just is.

Even more artistic license is required to allow him to manipulate banking information just by wishing it. Now I’ve worked with quite a few banks and from my experience the types of changes he makes would be very quickly noticed. You may also expect that for leading western countries large money transfers are flagged automatically to a countries regulatory authority and the banks own monitors.

I could go on about other inconsistencies which probably aren’t obvious to people who don’t have a knowledge of computer systems and networks. The problem is for me they get in the way of the story. Providing you can suspend your belief, ‘’Superhighway’ isn’t a bad read. In fact, it’s quite exciting and violent at times with some nice touches. It’s just that for me the inconsistencies of electroporting, my knowledge of networks and the banking industry means I have to chuck belief out of the top floor window of a rather tall building and hope it takes awhile to comeback.

On the positive side, I liked the style of Fayman’s writing and the characters were interesting. As the book ends on a cliff hanger there’s more than enough scope for at least one sequel.

Andy Whitaker

January 2016

(pub: Green Review, 2015. 221 pages eBook. Price: £0.99 (UK). ISBN 978-1-63413-210-7)

check out website: bit.ly/super-high-way

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Category: Books, Fantasy, MEDIA

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About the Author ()

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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