This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman, paints a believeable picture of a futuristic human society where cybernetic implants are not only accepted, but mandated by the governments of mankind. In a kind of futuristic welfare system, newborns are sugically implanted with neural hardware that grows with them, intwining itself into the nervous system. Rich families spend out of pocket for advanced, cutting-edge technology to give their children an advantage.
The second technological centerpiece of the novel is faster-than-light (FTL) travel. Early FTL travel, discovered centuries before, caused hideous mutations in human DNA structures, creating whole races of semi-human beings from hibernation ships sent out to colonize other planets. After this 'side effect' was discovered, FTL travel totally ceased for decades, leaving newly-found colonies to fend for themselves.
One small colony whose mutation created a very high chances for mental disorders managed to 're-discover' FTL that did not cause the mutations. This colony created a guild called 'Outspace,' which was filled with mutants who had the unique ability to navigate the ships through the FTL travel. This guild controls a monopoly on all FTL travel, which makes it so powerful that their homeworld quickly surpasses Earth. These two technologies shape the culture in which the two main characters of the book live.
Pursued by the Unknown
Jamisia Shido is normal a human from Earth. She was raised in an orbital habitat around earth that was owned by the Shido corporation. The corporations rule Earth completely, and would like to sink their teeth into the other worlds, but are sharply controlled by the Outspace Guild who could quarentine Earth from the rest of the galaxy at will.
Jamisia's corporate rulers want her to be the central figure in a corporate plot to break the Outspace Guild's monopoly, but she escapes her orbital habitat and starts on a journey of external and internal discovery. She quickly finds that the Shido experimenters have left an indelible fingerprint on her mind.
Kill it before it kills you
Dr. Masada's story focuses on the lethal threat of computer viruses. In this universe, your built-in computer can regulate your heatbeat, inject adrenaline to keep you awake, and fix 'small annoyances' like the common cold, diabetes and cancer. Computer viruses become mind-reading spyware at their most tame, and deadly, heart-attack inducing attackers at their worst.
Masada attempts to track down and solve the latest bit of evolving malware that could totally destroy society as it stands. Jamisia and Masada eventually cross paths and find out that in order to achieve their own objectives, they have to work together.
C.S. Friedman's epic stand-alone novel, This Alien Shore is a well-written, exciting, and mind-bending thriller that would make perfect sense to any EVE player used to the idea of implanting cybernetics in your brain.
Spotlight image by Gunnertracker.