Bandwidth by Eliot Peper

Rate: 4.5/5

Medium: Book

Overview (No Spoilers):

Having enjoyed two of Peper’s previous novels, Cumulus and Neon Fever Dream, I was excited to have received an ARC of his upcoming novel Bandwidth.  Peper continues to develop and grow as a writer, with his newest novel being his best yet.  In this fast paced read, we follow the perspective of Dag, a lobbyist whose past is peppered with a whole closet full of shady dealings.  Although perhaps I should amend that idiom to the closet being actually overflowing into the entire house. Sprinting right out of the gate, Bandwidth maintains a breakneck pace throughout, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats as they fly through this quick read.  As with Peper’s previous novels, advanced technology assumes one of the leading themes, specifically exploring not only the benefits but the capabilities and applications when in the hands of those with less than sound intentions. I thoroughly enjoyed the unique situation proposed in which the moral and ethical route was marred and ambiguous, forcing not only Dag to work through his own conclusions, but encouraging the reader to ponder as well. Overall, Bandwidth offers an intriguing glimpse of technology, political, and climate challenges that potentially await us foreseeable future, alongside exploring the quandary of how far one can stretch morality under the guise of ‘doing the right thing.’

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Will Javier and the rest of the Island’s genius inhabitants reconcile with Emily after her betrayal? What else has Emily done for the sake of the greater good that has gone beyond the this interesting group’s moral constraints.
  • Will Rachel figure out that it was Javier that built the loopholes into Commonwealth? Did Emily build any back doors that Javier was ignorant of and wasn’t caught by the Commonwealth.
  • I thought the ending, with setting up the governments vs. a massive company (Commonwealth), is well worth pondering and I’m curious if Peper will dive into this concept more in future books.
  • The ending sets us up for more Analog novels! Will we get to see more Dag now that he has found himself and has grown a conscience? How will his past come back to haunt him as he attempts to lead a more ethical path?
  • Were the mysterious partners angry at Dag for his abrupt resignation and undermining of a key client?
  • The Analog bar was a reoccurring scene within Bandwidth. Are there other similar places of technological blackout?
  • How did Lynn Chevalier record in Analog? I really thought that would come into play in Bandwidth, however perhaps in a following novel.
  • As much as I disliked Empress of a Thousand Skies there were very similar technology capabilities and themes, however both authors focused on different user effects and applications.  Additionally, Peper’s Bandwidth was significantly more developed, with regard to character and world building, along with overall level of detail.

Vocabulary Builder:

When reading it is common that I encounter words that I’m not privy to the exact definition, however it is easy to infer the meaning of the aforementioned word based on the context of the sentence and story. As such, relatively new to the Critiquing Chemist, you’ll find an additional section that includes vocabulary words that I encountered upon reading the book being reviewed that either had to look up the definition or a word I do not currently utilize on a regular basis in my everyday repertoire. This endeavor is easier when in the Kindle format, and potentially impossible with audiobooks, however I’m going to attempt to continue this section for future book reviews. I’ll be using the definitions from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Variegated: having discrete markings of different colors

Agave: any of a genus (Agave of the family Agavaceae, the agave family) of plants having spiny-margined leaves and flowers in tall spreading panicles and including some cultivated for their fiber or sap or for ornament

Repartee: a succession or interchange of clever retorts

Dissonance: an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement

Realpolitik: politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives

Despot: a ruler with absolute power and authority

Riposte a retaliatory verbal sally

Accretive: the process of growth or enlargement by a gradual buildup

Surfeit: an overabundant supply

Betide: to happen especially as if by fate

Triumvirate: a group or association of three

Heuristic: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods

Moraine: an accumulation of earth and stones carried and finally deposited by a glacier

Verdant: green in tint or color

Insouciance: lighthearted unconcern

Panopticon: an optical instrument combining the telescope and microscope


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