By: Malka Ann Older
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Author Malka Ann Older’s debut novel Infomacracy is a brilliantly written story of political intrigue in a not quite so far future. Every ten years there is a world-wide election. Instead of individuals competing for leadership, it is government types with vastly differing ideologies. Whichever government wins the most districts becomes the Supermajority. Above all of this is Information, a global corporation dedicated to spreading accurate, real time information about, well, everything and anything. But this government type is still fairly new, and the election isn’t without a fair share of contention, which Ken and Mishima are only just beginning to learn.
This is, quite honestly, possibly the best book I’ve read (thus far) this year. It hit a lot of the right buttons for me, and I’d re-read it in a heartbeat. One of the things that stood out for me? The characters.
There is a wide host of characters in Infomacracy: the two main characters, Ken and Mishima; several major secondary characters; and a very large supporting cast. Despite the amount of characters introduced, all of them are memorable (some to a slightly smaller degree), and all speak in rather distinctive voices. The characters also reflect the near-future world they live in very accurately; the cast is very international with multiple characters being immigrants, having immigrant parents, frequent travel between countries, and being about to speak if not read multiple languages.
However, I will admit that there is much more character development post page, oh, say 75 or so, than in the first several chapters of the book. To be honest, a lot changes after 70 or so pages (a guess at page numbers since I don’t have a copy in front of me at the moment). There’s more action. There’s more character development. And, perhaps most importantly, we’re finished with the infodumping (I use the word lightly; its nowhere near as bad some fantasy series counterparts) about the differing government factions, Information, and other bits and pieces of admittedly necessary worldbuilding.
Now, I didn’t have much of a problem with the infodumping and slower start. Of course, my love of reading stemmed from being fed a diet of high fantasy from a very young age. I’m used to the story coming to a grinding halt at the beginning of the third chapter (sometimes earlier) to explain everything a reader may ever need to know about the world. Infomacracy didn’t do that – we didn’t have Gandalf sit down and explain the entire history of Middle Earth – so don’t panic completely. But the first 1/3 is slower than the last 2/3 of the book. A good amount of what happens is simply to provide the reader with enough information for the meatier, juicier parts of the story later on. However, I can see pacing and the delivery of the so much information over a relatively quick amount of time being overwhelming, or simply a turn off for some readers.
I loved Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older. It’s definitely one of the best I have read thus far in 2016, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys near-future science fiction, and stories of political intrigue.
You enjoy science fiction/cyberpunk, you like political thrillers, you have no problems with a steep learning curve
Don't Read If:
the mere suggestion of an infodump is enough to make you scream, you dislike political intrigue