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[techbooks] REVIEW: "The Multiplex Man", James P. Hogan

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKMLPXMN.RVW 991127 The Multiplex Man , James P. Hogan, 1992, 0-671-57819-7 %A James P. Hogan www.global.org/jphogan jphogan1@ibm.net %C P. O. Box 1403,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2000
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      BKMLPXMN.RVW 991127

      "The Multiplex Man", James P. Hogan, 1992, 0-671-57819-7
      %A James P. Hogan www.global.org/jphogan jphogan1@...
      %C P. O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
      %D 1992
      %G 0-671-57819-7
      %I Baen Publishing Enterprises
      %O jim@...
      %P 375 p.
      %T "The Multiplex Man"

      Having reviewed and enjoyed other books by Hogan (cf. BKBUGPRK.RVW and
      BKIMMOPT.RVW) I was terribly disappointed by this one. Not that it is
      really bad, as such: the story is a fairly average piece of science
      fiction. It's just that Hogan can do so much better.

      I am giving away nothing in saying that the Multiplex Man of the title
      is a man of many parts, and only a little in stating that the parts
      are multiple personalities. (The surprise twist ending, in fact, will
      come as no surprise at all to anyone who has been paying attention
      throughout the book.) The technology taken to accomplish the
      multiplexing is standard fare, but, again, unsatisfactory given
      Hogan's previous level of detail and realism. In some passages of the
      book itself, the author proves that he knows more about
      neurophysiology than he is willing to put into the story, at one point
      citing the complex nature of both neuronal paths and biochemistry
      involved in memory, but then conveniently ignoring that complication.

      Given multiple personalities, the task of making one, or all,
      sympathetic enough to engage the reader is difficult. It may, then,
      be no wonder that Hogan fails. Very few of the characters in the book
      are attractive, and those few seem to be relegated to bit parts. By
      the end of the book it was very hard to care about how any of them
      came out. (And I felt that two of them who showed a lot of promise
      were very hard done by.)

      The trade mark magic, card-sharping, and mentalist tricks that are
      part and parcel of Hogan's "careful, you can be fooled" thesis show
      up, but only in passing, at the level of parlour games.

      And this leads to the biggest disappointment of all. A number of
      Hogan's other works have pointed out how people are fooled, and very
      carefully teach how the illusions are constructed, and how to test
      them for validity. This book simply rails against government
      intervention, conservationism, political correctness, and health fads.
      Rather than illustrating logical flaws, the discussions in the book
      degenerate into "yes it is/no it isn't" arguments. The result is that
      whenever the story gets close to a political or social analysis, it
      takes on a bad-tempered, right-wing pamphleteering tone, quite
      reminiscent of the worst of Ayn Rand.

      Other than that, it's fairly mundane.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKMLPXMN.RVW 991127

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