Audiobook Review: Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older
Published by Macmillan Audio, Tor.com on June 7th 2016
It's been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything's on the line.
With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?
Infomocracy is Malka Older's debut novel.
PRAISE FOR INFOMOCRACY
“A fast-paced, post-cyberpunk political thriller... If you always wanted to put The West Wing in a particle accelerator with Snow Crash to see what would happen, read this book.” —Max Gladstone, author of Last First Snow
"Smart, ambitious, bursting with provocative extrapolations, Infomocracy is the big-data-big-ideas-techno-analytical-microdemoglobal-post-everything political thriller we've been waiting for." —Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings
"In the mid-21st century, your biggest threat isn’t Artificial Intelligence—it’s other people. Yet the passionate, partisan, political and ultimately fallible men and women fighting for their beliefs are also Infomocracy’s greatest hope. An inspiring book about what we frail humans could still achieve, if we learn to work together." —Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep and the Virga saga
Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older was a fascinating blend of technology, politics, big corporations and conspiracy. Everything in this world revolves around Information, a corporatized database of sorts that contains pretty much everything. It’s like Google, research libraries and government databases all rolled into one mega-powered Information solution. Pretty much, it’s all the information in the world contained and controlled.
I found the government structure in this really intriguing. Instead of countries ruled by their own local governments, the world is now broken into pieces (centenals – which contain a population of about 100,000). Each centenal is ruled by their elected government, at least until the next election in 10 years. They don’t vote for individual people here or there, the entire government is a whole package deal. They refer to this model as “micro-democracy”.
Now, as you can imagine, the campaigning, research and everything else that goes into a typical election here is on a whole other level when it is the entire package being voted on. It pretty much turns governments into corporations (in fact, some of them bear the names of modern day corporations we are quite familiar with) and all the tactics are taken to a much higher level. This also includes the more desperate, behind the scenes business, because if they lose the election, it’s a huge deal. To remain relevant, survive, and of course, in power, they will do whatever it takes to win.
While I found this part of the story fascinating, I know not everyone will be as drawn in by the politics and technology. If you fall into this camp, don’t worry, because this is certainly not all the book has to offer. I really enjoyed the characters and relationships in the book as well. Mishima’s character is the most fleshed out, and I definitely enjoyed her as well as her relationship with Ken, another POV. There is also a bit of spying and intrigue, a bit of romance, and some action. Really this book has a ton to offer and I think it can appeal to a larger base than just the political SF fans.
To be fair, I will warn you, the book can be a bit slow to start. At first I was a bit unsure because there is a lot of information being given to you in the beginning. I was worried that it was going to overrun the story. But trust me, it pays off and the pace really picks up once you understand the world and what is going on. Overall, Infomocracy uniquely twists politics, information and corporate governments for a very thrilling story.
Audiobook Notes: I did listen to the audiobook version of Infomocracy and found it worked well overall. There is a good amount of information presented in the beginning, and I have to admit that sometimes with audiobooks I find I don’t retain details quite as well when I get a lot of them in a short time. But I do feel that this book worked well, and I never felt like I missed important details. The narration was well done.
Review originally posted on The Speculative Herald.