The Human Abstract

Author: George Mann
RRP 7.99, US $9.95, Cdn $14.95
ISBN 1 903889 65 0
Available 30 April 2004

Seeded with human genetic stock over a thousand years ago by an army of intelligent machines, the colony world of Copernica has been all but forgotten by history, a backwater in an ever-increasing frontier of human conquest and development. The colony has been a success. It has become a stable human outpost, a world not dissimilar to Earth itself. But
Rehan Mihajlovic, a dealer in antiquarian goods, is about to find out that history is only as reliable as those who write it, and that death is never very far away...

The Human Abstract is a strange beast not easily pigeonholed into any specific genre. And that is part of its charm. If I had to compare it to anything, I would probably say that if you took the best elements of 1984, Minority Report and Blade Runner then you would be on the right tracks.

George Mann is a remarkable young writer - one with an incredibly promising future ahead of him. Not only does he unravel a very engaging plot, but he also manages to master one of the hardest arts - writing fluid and believable dialogue.

His main characters almost lift of the page, they are that lifelike - even though some of his characters are not all human. The main character has to come to terms with loosing someone dear to him, only to have them "reanimated" as their memories are transplanted into a cloned replica of their body. And, the fact that this person is the same, but at the same time isn't really, came across very clearly in the writing. There is a branch of science that follows the belief that consciousness is not created by the brain and can therefore live independently of it - the brain acting as a channel for which our consciousness manifests itself in this reality. It was interesting to see how Mann takes a mixture of the beliefs about how our consciousness is made-up and neatly slots this into the middle of his tale.

Another little touch which I loved was the references he included at the start of each chapter. My favourite being:

'Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.' - Alert von Szent-Gyorgyi, from The Scientist Speculates (1962 Earth Standard)

As usual, Telos has done a remarkable job of presentation - I loved the cover design - with good quality paper and glossy cover.

Keep a close eye out for Mann in the future - I predict great things.

Nick Smithson

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