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The first thing to note about this book is the author. Originally published as written by Stephen Bury it is actually a collaboration by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury. The other thing you should know is that I am a big fan of Neal Stephenson. For my money give me Neil Gaiman for Fantasy and Neal Stephenson for Sci-fi and I am a happy guy.

You could compare this story to a modern Manchurian Candidate or maybe a political thriller version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. For my money this is a book that should be turned into an HBO miniseries with the look and feel of a spy/political thriller.

The basics of the story goes like this: A politician has a potentially career ending stroke. Someone with a lot of resources brings this politician into contact with a scientist who has developed a way for a computer chip to replace some lost brain functionality in primates. The politician recovers quickly and the secret group has a way to control him via the computer chip and coupled with real time voter responses they make the perfect third party presidential candidate.

Early in the book there is a lot of talk about how politics will change in the age of high definition. This novel was originally published in 1994 and the predictions of how HD news coverage would change politics is fascinating. It also hearkens back to the famous TV/Radio debate between Kennedy and Nixon. The media presentation of the politician can be more powerful than the words and we live in the world where one bad video clip can stop a political campaign. If you don’t believe that to be the case I will refer you to the 2004 Dean campaign.

Stephenson is known for not being able to write endings, this of course isn’t a fair analysis. Stephenson writes his stories to talk about technology and sometimes the history of technology. He is perhaps the best history teacher in modern times because he can wrap the history or tech into an fascinating story. Interface doesn’t follow the normal climatic way of ending a book. Again going back to me thinking it would make a great miniseries applies here. The ending of the novel is only about 7.5-12.5% of the story, like the ending of a ten part series would be. Other novels usually have 15-25% of the novel.  Stephenson’s  endings work but you can feel like something is missing, it can wrap up really quick and almost to quick for someone who writes such long novels.

Its a good book, a good read and would make a great tv show.

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