Alan Dean Foster

"The Mocking Program"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer AUG 26, 2002)

"Cardenas wound his way through the maze, past busy techs and beat officers and bureaucrats, dodging self-propelled messenger carts and food trays, until he found himself outside the office he sought. Hyaki was visible from within, conversing animatedly with Drosi Semagarya. Through their mouths moved, and Cardenas was not more than a couple meters from them, he could hear nothing. Nevertheless, he was able to follow the gist of the conversation effortlessly. Almost as a by-product of their primary training, good intuits invariably made spectacularly adept lip-readers."

The Mocking Program by Alan Dean Foster

Angel Cardenas and his partner Fredoso Hyaki are not shocked by the corpse they find. The fact that he has been completely cleaned out --- everything from the change in his pockets to his eyes and bone marrow --- has been stolen from him doesn't faze them much. They've seen this sort of thing before. On the Montezuma Strip in a dark future not that far away, such things are common. What's not common is that the DNA does not match the Ident pill, insisting that the victim is two different people; one of which has a wife and daughter who suddenly turn up missing.

Read excerptFor long-time fans of Foster, you will find in this book an entirely different offering. Usually his worldview is lighter, more optimistic. In this case, we are invited into a darker, harder world, a vision of the future that does not promise happiness for all. Things are a lot harder, both economically and physically, despite the promises created by technology. Montezuma Strip makes the rougher parts of New York look like a cakewalk.

The technology is utterly cool...and completely believable. Napkins that kill bacteria using charges, force field underwear, little floating advertising robots that people bat away like flies. My favorite technology was totally Alan Dean Foster....he created tiny little artificial intelligence machines called wugs, who don't do anything, just follow around and watch. I found them immensely adorable. He has a flair for creating technology that seems like it ought to already be here, things that I am sure are only a handful of years away, but are still fantastical and unique. It adds a great deal of texture to the world, sounds from the ever-yammering advertisement bots, the feeling that you're being watched from the sewers by tiny mechanical eyes. It makes the setting much more concrete.

Angel is kind of a different character. He is a trained intuitive, which means he can read body language, not minds. Not only is it useful (in one case saving his and his partner's life) but also it makes it hard for him to have a relationship. This dual angle where the talent is shown as both positive and negative gives Angel some real depth of character. I found myself really liking him. His team up with the huge, silent Fredoso is a great match. Hyaki is the brawn of the operation. He has a fine sarcastic sense of humor and the type of personality that works well with Angel. All in all they made an effective pair that I would love to see again.

Foster's travel into futuristic hard-boiled detective stories was a slight surprise. I never felt he was a vapid writer, (and I am always annoyed by people who look at a writer and go, "Well, it's not like the last one, is it?") but my favorite books of his, The Spell Singer Series and Quozel, all are a bit more gentle and fun. I'm glad that he has made this departure, for he weaves a gritty tale with an incredibly surprising ending that ought to please old fans as well as bring him new.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 9 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from The Mocking Program at MostlyFiction.com



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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

The Flinx of the Commonwealth Series

The Ice Rigger Trilogy (Commonwealth Series)

The Humanx Commonwealth

Founding of the Commonwealth Series

The Spellsinger Series (Fantasy)

The Damned Series

Journeys of the Catechist Series (Fantasy)

The Taken Trilogy:

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

Alan Dean FosterAlan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946, but raised in Los Angeles. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from UCLA (1968, l969) he spent two years as a copywriter for a small Studio City, Calif. advertising and public relations firm. His writing career began wehn a Lovecraftian letter he wrote in 1968 was published as a short story. After selling other stories, Ballantine purchased his first novel, The Tar-Alym Krang, in 1972. Since then Foster's writing has appeared in all major science fiction magazine as well as anthologies.

Foster writes in a variety of genres, including hard science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He is also the author of numerous nonfiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as novelizations of several films, including Star Wars, the first three Alien films, and Alien Nation. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first science fiction work ever to do so.

Foster’s love of the far-away and exotic has led him to travel extensively. He’s lived in Tahiti and French Polynesia, traveled to Europe, Asia, and throughout the Pacific, and has explored the back roads of Tanzania and Kenya. He has rappelled into New Mexico’s fabled Lechugilla Cave, panfried piranha (lots of bones, tastes a lot like trout) in Peru, white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi’s Batoka Gorge, and driven solo the length and breadth of Namibia.

Foster and his wife, JoAnn Oxley, reside in Prescott, Arizona, in a house built of brick that was salvaged from a turn-of-the-century miners’ brothel. He is presently at work on several new novels and media projects.

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