Prometheus

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Volume 29, Number 2, Winter 2011

The Last Trumpet Project

By Kevin MacArdrey

www.lasttrumpetproject.com, 2010
Reviewed by Chris Hibbert

Kevin MacArdry’s The Last Trumpet Project covers the consequences of a slightly future world in which realistic virtual realities and uploading of people’s consciousnesses into software are becoming commonplace. The government and organized religion are both violently opposed to these developments (for different reasons) and work together to suppress the technology and the people promoting it. Since the technology is the result of decentralized processes, rather than a single company or organization, the efforts to suppress don’t do much more than slow the tide.

The story is generally well-told, with plenty of excitement, intrigue, and reasonable character development. The one place where MacArdry comes up short is in his depictions of the bad guys. They are caricatures of venal politicians and religious leaders, and may turn off (politically) mainstream readers. Their explicit drives and goals are for personal power, and they verbally admit that they don’t care who gets hurt as long as they don’t have to relinquish control.

MacArdry presents a plausible economic story about the development of the technology (the ability to view past events necessary for uploading dead people notwithstanding). As the fidelity of the VR improves, and there are more things to do and places to go there, more people spend more time there. The eventual consequence is that their real world activities and sources of income become harder to trace, which squeezes the tax authorities. This is the root of much of the governmental opposition. The religious opposition is stirred up based on the project to resurrect the dead into the artificial worlds.

As befits a technology that people rely on so heavily (the resurrected can’t exist without it), the software has actual security (not described) that enables owners to prevent bad actors from getting access to sensitive locations. Of course the weak spot is physical access to the servers hosting the system, and the enemy forces eventually figure that out, though they have a hard time connecting particular servers to particular virtual locations.

The Last Trumpet Project is a finalist for the Prometheus Award, and it has a reasonable chance. It may not be the best written candidate of this year’s finalists, but it’s one of the best at presenting a clear conflict between freedom and government repression.

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