[Warning: The book information for SignalShattered on both the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites contains extreme plot "spoilers" for the first book (SignalToNoise). If you read them, you'll know how the first book ends.]
This is the sequel to SignalToNoise, which as you know was really, really good. Unfortunately, SignalToNoise didn't end, leaving readers only grasping for more. Well, this is more. Skipping quickly past a lame segue, the book begins precisely where SignalToNoise left off as if the two books were broken in two by a hairline fracture. Indeed, neither book stands on its own, but together they are a formidable story near the upper crust of popular SciFi and CyberPunk.
The one major difference between the two novels is the pace and style. While the first book was slower, resorting to tricky metaphors (inside VirtualReality), and a more interesting right brain read, this book was a much faster, left brain read. For the first section, not many pages go by without some death defying action. Well, when you're running out of oxygen, you don't really give a damn about much else, let alone silly metaphors.
Indeed, as the novel progresses, the use of metaphor in VirtualReality becomes less of a communication accelerant and more of a hindrance. This reflects deeply into the changes the human race are undergoing. In fact, when you change that much (no spoilers!), entirely new behaviour will emerge. Nylund accomplishes this well, I thought.
What I did find interesting was that the warfare was necessarily about information and psychology. As physical power equalized--if you call growing to the asymptote "equalizing"--it became unimportant. Knowledge, strategy, emotions. Mind over matter.
So, if you haven't read SignalToNoise, do it. Then you'll want to read this novel, trust me. When you do, it'll be worth it.
Review by SunirShah