October 2001, Reviews by Drivers Hands

Jennifer A. Hall reviews God Shock by Stefan Rochfort

Cyberpunk and philosophical musings splashed with caustic commentary and humor shape the plot of God Shock. Athena deals in data she gets by searching the web with AI spiders and sift engines. One particular sale piques her curiosity a little too much for her own good: she is kidnapped, first tortured, then told she's got Reinleida Syndrome and is delusional and they're rehabilitating her. She's not buying it, but something is definitely happening to her: she is becoming a super-savant. Rudolf, a horny writer and Nixist at the Institute where she is being kept, who has the Reinleida virus as well, tells her she's on her way to god-shock: when the reality that existence is meaningless overcomes you, and she'll either start screaming about seeing the face of God or go quietly insane. The downside of not going god-shock is that you're so advanced everything is boring and you're constantly looking for diversion.

Athena and Rudolf don't go god-shock, escape the Institute, and find they're 2000 km from anywhere in an area called the badlands, and have to figure out how things work there. They continue investigating their virus and god-shock - what it has to do with the Inner Circle and the messianic madman who set the whole thing off. The research and discussions are a good excuse to present lots and lots of ideas - from thought-provoking to cynical to downright funny - along with plenty of philosophical and sexual sparring between the cyberphile and the Nixist. (My favorite: The Divine Laxative, which could "induce the expulsion of a whole lot of spiritualist shite.") Rochfort takes a lot of pokes at religion - such as pointing out it resembles various mental disorders (e.g., religious doctrine is identical to the symptoms of schizophrenia) - which could be the best or the worst part of it, depending on your point of view. Then there's the utopian society Athena and Rudolf come across whose members have the same virus and use sex and Intranet trips to stave off the boredom. All-in-all God Shock is a good mind-bending trip.

Stefan Rochfort, God Shock (978-1478140634, $2.99, 252pp, tp. April 2001)
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