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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Implant", F. Paul Wilson

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKIMPLNT.RVW 991121 Implant , F. Paul Wilson, 1995, 0-812-54470-6 %A F. Paul Wilson %C 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 %D 1995 %G
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2000
      BKIMPLNT.RVW 991121

      "Implant", F. Paul Wilson, 1995, 0-812-54470-6
      %A F. Paul Wilson
      %C 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
      %D 1995
      %G 0-812-54470-6
      %I Forge Books/Tom Doherty Assoc.
      %O pnh@... www.tor.com
      %P 437 p.
      %T "Implant"

      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

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      People have begun to feel like a Christian Scientist with
      appendicitis. - Tom Lehrer
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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