Just finished: Infomocracy by Malka Older


Here’s the Blurb:

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?

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?

My thoughts:

First, I’m going to say I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of truth to power in its pages. For example, this passage:

“Of course! I’m already registered. Why wouldn’t you vote? I mean, in this election, we really have a chance to change things. Your vote could be the one to make a difference.”

“How do you know whom I would vote for?” Domaine asks, “Your vote and my vote might cancel each other out.”

There are delightful interplays like this throughout the book, but there is also a very real question about what impact voting has on a world. In this case, the world is made of “micro-democracies” of 100,000 people. She names these centenals.

Joining the quest to define democracy and understand civil impact on a global scale is the question of what role information plays. In this world information is beauracratized. It becomes “Information” with a capital i and it’s the place that fact checks all the things to keep the citizenry informed. But, like in many instances,

“You can give a voter Information, but you can’t make him think.”

Like all debut novels it had some stumbles and in this case it was not giving context to the world fast enough. It is given, it just doesn’t arrive until later in the book in most cases. The first few chapters feel very disconcerting because it is difficult to place yourself within the world without that context.

This is the first book of a planned trilogy from my understanding. So that means there was a portion of the book that is really devoted to setting up future action.  It also leaves the end feeling a little unresolved. I suspect that there is a larger manipulation going on in this global governance and we will likely get more about that in the next installment. That being said, there is no lack of action in this novel. The pace is fast and thrilling.

I would have no qualms suggesting this to other librarians and information professionals, people who enjoy international spy novels, or those involved with civic tech initiatives. If you want to try a sample, the first 5 chapters are available at Tor.com here: http://www.tor.com/2016/06/07/read-chapters-1-5-of-malka-olders-infomocracy/

Overall: 4 stars

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