[techbooks] REVIEW: "Implant", F. Paul Wilson
- BKIMPLNT.RVW 991121
"Implant", F. Paul Wilson, 1995, 0-812-54470-6
%A F. Paul Wilson
%C 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
%I Forge Books/Tom Doherty Assoc.
%O pnh@... www.tor.com
%P 437 p.
Wilson is an oddly underappreciated writer, in my opinion. His story
lines are both interesting and entertaining. His characters are
sympathetic. Villains are a specialty: he can make some people very
dangerous without making them unattractive. Wilson can very
definitely handle suspense, piling surprise on surprise without
exhausting the reader.
The technology of this novel is related to the titular implant. It
is a colloidal capsule that can be inserted under the skin, and then
dissolved, either after a period of time, or at a specific time by the
application of ultrasound.
The details of the implant itself are handled quite nicely. The
triggering technology, though, is a bit problematic. First off, the
ultrasound required in the sotry is not the low power that is used in
diagnostics, but the higher level used in physiotherapy. (That itself
presents a bit of a problem at one point in the text. The watt is a
measure of power, but megahertz, while it may be used to calculate
power, is not a measure of power as such.) The triggering unit that
is used in the book has been cobbled together by a hobbyist in order
to fit into a pocket. Fair enough: its a bit beyond the pale to have
a full power supply and transmitter in the palm of one's hand, but a
lot of the control circuitry isn't necessary so we'll allow it.
However, the unit is meant to be used at a distance.
Ultrasound, like any sound, will transmit through the air. However,
sound does not transmit very effectively from the air into a body.
This is why ultrasound transducers are pressed directly onto the body,
usually with a gel layer to enhance the transmission. From the open
air, most of the sound energy will simply reflect off the skin
surface. Given that the objective, in the book, is to get the sound
power to dissolve the implant inside the body, this effort is pretty
much doomed to failure.
There is also a rather nice computer mention in the book. I really
have to hand it to Wilson: not many people know about the order switch
on the DOS directory list command. Unfortunately, the command given
isn't quite sufficient: you'd also have to include the subdirectory
switch in order to get it to go through the whole hard disk. Also,
three letter designations are usually the filename extensions, used to
indicate to which program they belong. And if someone knows as little
about the program cited as is stated in the book, it isn't likely that
this same computer novice would be able to view a stored search.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKIMPLNT.RVW 991121
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http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade