A Deep, Evolving, and Wonderfully Dark World
4 out of 5 stars
This book really got me. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into in the beginning. I love science fiction novels, and I like television – so I guess I knew I was going to like it. But once I dove into the world, it was deep and immersive. The characters were so diverse (many of which were incredibly intricately interconnected), but you felt like you knew them. You felt for them, both good and bad.
This was also a novel that makes you think. Yes, it’s put into the future a good ways, but I think that some of the things that the authors wrote about are definitely on their way to becoming true. This book made me shudder a few times over the near distant future.
My one complaint was it felt a bit Steven King at points (which to me isn’t good – I always feel like he took 1-2 pages to explain what color the wall was). There was almost TOO much explanation of scenes that didn’t need to be there. This book could have been about three-quarters to half it’s length if the authors didn’t dive SO deeply into the world. But then again, some things would have been missed or not explained that some readers may love.
I could see this being optioned into a mini-series or a full-blown television series, but due to the graphic language (and some acts) in the book — I would love to see it on HBO, Showtime or even Netflix so that they wouldn’t feel the need to change the ways that the characters spoke and acted.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for my honest review.
Buy it here: The Beam: Season One
In the future, the Beam network has taken over our lives — but now, it’s developing a life of its own.
The year is 2097. North America has become the North American Union — the only place on Earth not decimated by the environmental catastrophes of the 2020s. To protect citizens during the technological renaissance, the NAU erected the Lattice: an impervious net to keep the so-called “Wild East” at bay. That was when the NAU began to regrow as a cyperpunk utopia … or dystopia, depending on where you stand.
Today, the NAU appears to be divided into two political parties: the socialist Directorate and the capitalist Enterprise. But within secret circles, the true division of NAU power and wealth is more apparent: there is the Lower 99 Percent, who rely on The Beam to entertain and connect the nationwide hive mind … and there is the Beau Monde, who control it.
Meet Micah and Isaac Ryan: Figureheads of power, pawns within a greater game
For the Lower 99, the choice between Enterprise and Directorate is simple. They can choose the security of Directorate: fed, sheltered, and provided-for by the government … but unable to advance beyond their assigned (and modest) station. Or they can choose the potential and risk of Enterprise, where a few entrepreneurs and artists thrive, but many more die in the gutters without a safety net.
Micah heads the Enterprise party, blessed with family wealth that grew from rumored unsavory practices during the dystopian years. Isaac heads the opposing Directorate — just as wealthy, just as enhanced with restricted Beam-interfacing upgrades much better than those widely believed to exist.
But both of the Ryan brothers ultimately serve an inner circle, with strings pulled from high above.
Meet Kai Dreyfuss: A prostitute assassin with aspirations to join the Beau Monde, harboring a cortex full of dangerous secrets.
Kai is eternally young, eternally beautiful, her add-ons suited to her dual careers in pleasure and espionage. Kai would do anything to ascend to the secret club she’s learned is above her pay grade … and her connection to Nicolai Costa (the power behind Isaac Ryan) gives her an unfair advantage.
Meet Leah: A girl with no last name, no past, and a hacker’s mind in the body of a luddite.
Not everyone loves the hyperconnectivity of The Beam, although few are immune to its influence. Leah (young, dreadlocked, with a penchant for disobedience) lives a pair of lives between the Organa settlement that eschews technology and plots to disrupt the network … and her prodigious ability to see behind The Beam’s AI to the intelligence growing within it.
And meet Doc Stahl: A biological upgrades dealer who knows too much.
So far, the Beau Monde has kept its secrets under wraps and the true breadth of its power hidden. But Thomas “Doc” Stahl has stumbled into a place he shouldn’t be and seen things he’s forbidden to see. There are upgrades on the market far superior to those he’s been allowed to sell — and interests out there who are prepared to kill to protect their secrets.
But Shift is coming …
The Enterprise and Directorate parties have always given people an identity … and a “them” to resent so the true power balance can remain hidden. In the past, the chance for citizens to change their party (or stay in the same) for the next six years at Shift has been routine. But this year, the air is different. Riots are blooming. And this Shift promises to be anything but ordinary.
The Beam is part hard science fiction, part political thriller, part heart-pounding cyperpunk adventure, part techno thriller. Science fiction in the footprints of Asimov, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Choose your side. Select your destiny.
Plug your mind into The Beam. It’s been waiting for you.
Sean loves writing books, even more than reading them. He is co-founder of Collective Inkwell and Realm & Sands imprints, writes for children under the name Guy Incognito, and has more than his share of nose.
Together with co-authors David Wright and Johnny B. Truant, Sean has written the series Yesterdays Gone, WhiteSpace, ForNevermore, Available Darkness, Dark Crossings, Unicorn Western, The Beam, Namaste, Robot Proletariat, Cursed, Greens, Space Shuttle, and Everyone Gets Divorced. He also co-wrote the how-to indie book, Write. Publish. Repeat.
Johnny B. Truant is an author, blogger, and podcaster who, like the Ramones, was long denied induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame despite having a large cult following. He makes his online home at JohnnyBTruant.com and is the author of the Unicorn Western series, the Fat Vampire series, The Bialy Pimps, and a handful of other properties and growing every week.
You can connect with Johnny on Twitter at @JohnnyBTruant, and you should totally send him an email from JohnnyBTruant.com if the mood strikes you.