Tor, May 2002, 25.95, 400 pp.
About a decade into the future, the United Kingdom and much of the world struggles to recover from the Infowar that erased most computer records. Needing a sense of security people turn to extreme right-wing elements to run the government. Leaders vow to cleanse society of pornography and related violence. To succeed on their quest to destroy the obscene, the Autonomous Distributed Expert Surveillance System (ADESS), a network of security cameras controlled by an artificial intelligent computer, is developed.
Not everyone acquiesces to the new world order. For instance London student Sophie Booth provides live performances in her apartment almost daily for her loyal following via her webcams. However, in front of her camera, someone wearing a Thatcher mask enters her abode and kills Sophie. Detested and scorned by his peers for alleged cowardly acts during the Infowar, “exiled” Police Detective John investigates the murder. The case should be obvious, but every new clue leads to a zillion questions and several dead ends and detours.
The key element to WHOLE WIDE WORLD is the chilling reality that this type of surveillance is here today even without a growing AI presence. The story line smoothly blends science fiction that feels more like science into a strong, old fashioned who-done-it starring an anti-hero with a lot on his plate besides the inquiries. All this turns into a strong suspense filled novel while Paul McAuley furbishes a convincing “warning” that will delight fans of science fiction mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner