The Digital Now
by Roland Allnach
Tabalt Press

"It was maintenance, maintenance for the Process; Society must go on; Central must go on. The data threads must not be disturbed."

Carly Westing lives in the moment. Every day is the same for her as a patrolman—a day of intense brutality, mindless sex with colleagues or neighbors, heavy drinking, and the periodic joy of "meat-farming" someone with her repeater. Like all patrolmen, she never questions her role in life, nor does she retain many long-term memories other than some fragments of a childhood that seem at odds with how things are supposed to be in a society where Central is in control. Little does she suspect that everything she has always believed about herself and her world is soon going to change.

In this chilling and thought-provoking novel, Allnach spins a tale of a dark future where nothing one sees or experiences can ever be taken at face value. Like Neo in The Matrix, Carly wakes up to a new perception of reality and must learn to not only survive in the real world but also choose whether or not to embrace what appears to be her destiny. Yet despite some thematic similarities and the use of data threads that bring to mind the iconic, opening images from the Wachowski siblings' film, the author's story is far from derivative. In addition, the society he has crafted is uniquely his own.

The author;s world-building skills are top-notch as are his abilities to construct a well-paced plot and develop believable characters. The awakening of ethical insights and a moral compass in those who once blindly dealt death and destruction adds just the right amount of depth to balance out the action. While some scenes are extremely graphic, they also serve to emphasize the absolute depravity of Central's perfect world. Rich in atmosphere and sheer readability, Allnach's novel is a solid addition to dystopian fiction.

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