Thursday, 24 March 2011

Book Review: 0.4 by Mike Lancaster

Pros: old style SF feel, VERY fast read, quick paced, suspenseful
Cons: leaves you wanting more
For Parents: no content, a great SF primer for newcomers

0.4 (Human.4 in the U.S.) is a book written in the style of classic science fiction writers like H.G. Wells and John Wyndham in that there's a narrator explaining strange events that have already occurred.  In this case, the narrator is Kyle Straker, a teenager whose 3 audio tape recordings have been found and heavily analyzed by historians of the future.  This written transcript (the book itself) is edited by Mike A. Lancaster.

Kyle has a fantastic story to tell.  At the annual talent show on the village green he agrees to be a test subject of a friend's attempts at hypnotism.  When he wakes up from the trance a few minutes later the world has changed.

The novel is best read knowing as little as possible about it.  It reads very much like a Twilight Zone episode, the pleasure coming both from the suspense and in trying to guess what's going on.  And the editor's asides about 20th Century phrases and cultural norms are quite interesting.  Aside from the cassette tapes (the use of which is explained within the text) the technology mentioned is modern.

This is a fun, quick read with TV style pacing and a story that will keep you guessing about what's really going on.  If you're trying to introduce a young reader to science fiction, this makes the perfect primer.

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