Beyond Future Shock
Alex Alaniz, Ph.D.
Beyond Future Shock begins as a pre-WWII love story. When two German lovers, Heinrich and Lise, marry, their jealous, scientific peer and friend (Hans), who has become a fervent Nazi, exposes Lise and her Jewish family.
The plot starts off slowly with no hint of sci-fi, except for baffling, but intriguing, mentions of ‘hundreds of years in the future’ and scientific discoveries to do with DNA. This shouldn’t put you off reading it, as it is an enjoyable period read.
We follow Heinrich, Lise and Hans through their early years and education. To start with, their education is almost happy go lucky, they enjoy every moment of it - until war looms and Hitler take over their education and Nazism is shoved down their throats.
From then on, it follows the three through the war, sometimes in a graphic way. The general history of this period, including the Nazis, SS, Hitler, extermination camps and bombings seems to have been well researched and is an enjoyable read, as the author really describes the people and places, and their interactions. You can feel Heinrich’s love for flying, Lise’s love of Physics and Hans’ obsession with Nazism.
So for two third of the book it really is a WWII love story, including the almost cliched love triangle, in which the two lovers are split up and go in different directions, and don’t hear from each other for a long time, all the while not knowing if the other is alive.
As I read the narrative, I found that the story picked up pace with regards to the amount of time which passes with each set of pages. This helped to give the story depth into the future - the same number of pages read, but more time passes in those pages.
Towards the end, things get a little vague. They upload their minds into Mindspace Servers and gradually use their physical bodies less and less, until eventually they are redundant. It seems most humans are doing this, but the story doesn’t really explain what it is like. Everything seems to be pretty much ‘as was’.
As most humans upload their ’self’ into these Mindspace servers, the more server space the person has, the more processing power they have. So it goes without saying that people try and take over other people’s mindspace area. Thus begins the ‘Minspace Wars’.
The only downside of the story being that the fine narrative to start with gets a little flat as Heinrich and Lise emigrate to Mindspace. An enemy is described, but there is no motivation as to why this entity is attacking (you never see things from its point of view). It is still the ‘old’ Heinrich and Lise in there, but they don’t come across as the same. Some spark is lost. Maybe that was intentional, as they are now no longer human.
There are some neat parts though. The while first two-thirds of the book are a must read, as the author brings it to life with his styled prose. Also, in the scifi part of the book, Heinrich orders hundreds of spacecraft to be built and loads in the persona of a dead pilot friend into them all. He changes the logic in one of them to be more ‘human’ - i.e. it cracks jokes. After one outing with it, he returns and programs a few more with the same more human logic.
Overall, it’s a pretty mindblowing concept. The book flows well until the end (if you can use your imagination and fill in the blanks somewhat), and seems grounded in fact, only to explode into SF.