Friday, September 30, 2016

Home Among the Ruins

Review: Quantum Law: Resettlement by Eduardo Suastegui

The second installment of Suastegui's new series dealing with artificially-intelligent quantum law computers and the society man has surrendered to their rule opens with the human/synthetic-hybrid law partners Jerry Simmons and Ace defending yet another low-life criminal who makes his living in the crevices between government and governed.

This miscreant will be difficult for them to defend; like present-day vandals who post video records of their hooliganism, he made a quantum recording of his break-and-enter burglary. The case offers a quick decision for the ever-efficient computer court.

But even as they search for grounds for leniency in this case, the quantum-law partners find themselves buried in the task of validating claims on land in Los Angeles. Prime real estate in the dressier parts of the city has been rebuilt at last, and people who owned it at the time of the Crisis—the same one that left their government in the digital hands of the Quantum Law computers—want to come home. They want to reclaim the property they were forced to abandon.

It'll take more than a claim of residence, though, and the partners have to balance grey areas of human motivation and political maneuvering against the black-and-white, cut-and-dried judgement of the machines. And the hybrids. And the Hive in Big Bear.

Following close on the legal and moral chicanery of Quantum Law: Containment (which I reviewed in August 2016), this novel takes Jerry to an even darker place. Can he trust his partner? Can he trust his ex? Can he even trust himself?

Once again, Suastegui has woven a tricky trap from the moral questions that rise from trusting our governance to a machine. Quantum or political.