Book Review: Punch Escrow by Tal Klein

It is the 22nd century and the world is a rather interesting place. Governments, having led the world into one too many disastrous world wars,  have been basically replaced by powerful corporations that keep the economy flowing and everyone happy in this 32446949nanotech world of imbedded computer chips, fairly sentient personal apps, and medical miracles.  No personalized flying cars though, ala The Jetsons, but there is teleportation, otherwise known as The Punch Escrow. A seemingly innocuous and quick form of travel. Something proven far safer than a 21st century car, or a plane. No one has ever died from teleportation, or so they tell the world. But, everything is not as it seems.

Meanwhile, while the majority of the human race has moved forward with technology, there are always those who broach the simple question, “where is humanity headed?” They do not buy into the simple, and rather mundane explanation, of how the Punch Escrow system works.  There is something wrong with teleportation, and they theorize that the corporations are not telling the truth. Until recently these luddites have been content to peacefully protest and try to educate the planet about teleportation’s danger to the “soul.” It is more than a sin, they preach. It is an abomination, they claim. Being Quakers they believe in nonviolence. But there are those among this group that refuse to remain passive any longer.

Then there are the citizens of the Levant. Those left in the Middle East that survived the last great war have decided to join together to become a balance to the corporations, and the teleporting world. Jews, Christians and Moslems have formed one simple monotheistic religion, which peacefully oversees what was once one of the most volatile areas of the planet. (As an aside, after the recent terror attack which emanated out of the Al Aqsa Mosque, and the ensuing riots in Jerusalem, Israel, when security measures were imposed,  this peaceful one-religion-kumbaya scenario is more science fiction than even the teleporting machines.) But one thing that remain the same in the 22nd century,  is the smartass, obnoxiousness of the Levant spymasters, with such endearing names as Moti, Zaki and Ifrit.  Throw in a little Talmud, Torah and Kabbalah and the image of the philosopher spy prince is complete. They may not be called Mossad, but there is just that little bit of the highbrow delight we all have when reading about those mythical Israeli super spies.

Calling upon today’s knowledge of quantum physics, the author, Tal Klein, has written a fast paced, scifi thriller, that leaves the reader at the edge of their seat. You literally will not be able to put this book down. The reader will be drawn into a future that scientifically, in some respects, may not be that far off.

The story begins as our protagonist, Joel Byram, an obnoxious, lazy true antihero, is catapulted into the center of a scandal that threatens to upend the entire new world order, not to mention hurt the bottom line of The Punch Escrow’s creators. From New York, to Costa Rica, to terror dens, and then back to the iconic Chelsea Piers, you will be the passenger on a rollercoaster of backstabbing, corporate greed, and political machinations worthy of any good drama.  How it all ends will leave you breathless, and wanting a sequel.

Not to be missed along the way, is how the author uses footnotes as a tool to tell the underlying backstory of the book. Make sure not to skip this part. It is highly engaging, and adds dimensions to this seat of your pants thrill ride. The footnotes not only tell the history of the future, but it also brings into focus the real science behind many of the books predictions.

This book is a combination  scifi, espionage mystery, replete with corporate raiders,  evil genius’ and the unlikely savior of the day.  It does present some rather interesting questions about humanity, our place in the universe, and ultimately just what are you willing to give up in order to become greater than God.

If you are a scifi buff, someone who enjoys the works of David Weber, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Moon, have ever read Dune, and even enjoy the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then this book is definitely for you.

If your family sits around the dinner table and happily debates scientific issues, corporate shenanigans, the existence of God, the importance of religion and what assholes our politicos be,  (mine does), don’t miss out on this book:

About Elise "Ronan"

#JewishandProud ...
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