September 13, 2008
Book Review By: Mr. Roboto
Year: 2003-2004 (?)
Arthur: Marshall Brain
Category: Online Cyberpunk Books
‘How Stuff Works,’ Cyberpunk edition. Perhaps better known for his “How Stuff Works” website, Mr. Marshall Brain has since started his own site with some essays and stories. Out of curiosity, I did a search for “cyberpunk” on HowStuffWorks.com and they returned an article on “How Hackers Work,” so he/they seem to have an idea about cyberpunk. Manna also reflects this.
Synopsis. The story is told first-person by Jacob Lewis105, a burger-flipper at Burger-G when, on May 17, 2010, the end began. A simple PC in a back corner of the Burger-G had software installed on it called “Manna” (as in manage) that could micro-manage the workers via voice synthesis through headsets. Before long, other businesses replaced managers with Manna and clones. Eventually, this lead to a two-tiered society of the uber-rich execs and the minimum-wage slaves… until robotic technology advanced to the point where the slavers are no longer required, and a good portion of the human population ended up in unemployment tenement “projects.”
Short, but sweet. Brain’s story is surprisingly good, but the ending did leave me wanting more. I wanted to see if the Manna-net would try to take over the paradise Jacob finds. But for eight “chapters” of 2-3 pages each, it is a good, easy read. If only it was in PDF or some e-text form…