Geoff Ryman’s Air.

You know, I’d been bitching about not having read any good SF lately, and then I read this:

“Mae thought:

“I am trapped ina car with a madman who happens to tell the truth. I am trapped in a car with someone driven so crazy by a big opinion of himself that he thinks he will live forever. He thinks he will shake God’s hand by machines. The truly awful thing is that he just might do it…

“The only thing she could do that would not help him would be to stay silent. Staying silent would prevent him from wanting to know anything more about her. If he felt there was more Info to be derived, he would imprison her again until he had it.

“Mae pretended to go asleep.”

Air is the story of how the internet is beamed into the minds of the villagers of a tiny Asian country using equipment based in the “other” dimensions of the string-theory cosmos. Because these “other” dimensions are outside time and space, it turns out that the ‘net is, too.

Mae is the “fashion expert” of a small village where some people still keep pigs in the kitchen; when the new “Air” system is tested in their country, thousands of people are so disoriented that they have fatal accidents. Mae is with an old woman, Mrs. Tung at the time of the Air test; Mrs. Tung has an accident and dies while both are connected to each other through Air, downloading a copy of Mrs. Tung’s personality at the time of her death into Mae’s mind.

It gets weirder from there. In fact, it gets as weird as anything I could come up with, but Ryman never loses control. The ending is inexplicable–but by the time you turn the last page, it doesn’t really need to be explained. Coooool.

Forget about having a computer implanted in your head, man. Go for Air.