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Utopia    by Lincoln Child order for
by Lincoln Child
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is another novel about a near future theme park which you would have to be out of your mind to visit. Like Westworld and Jurassic Park, theme park Utopia sets out to provide a true to life fantasy experience which goes sadly wrong, at least for the park visitors (the author is undoubtedly happy, since it will probably result in another popular movie).

Apart from self-programming robots, and a fantastically complex controlling computer system serviced by some of them, Utopia is distinguished by the use of a completely new invention, a very highly advanced holographic capability, which is unique to the Park. These advances are used to create several theme worlds, such as Gaslight, a lovingly detailed recreation of Victorian London, and Camelot, with its knights, wizards and magic. Dominating all of these theme worlds, however, are white-knuckle, thrill a minute roller coasters - and dominating the Park, financially at least, is a well patronized and highly profitable casino.

Although it is located in the Nevada desert between Las Vegas and Reno, about 65,000 visitors pass through Utopia daily. All seems to be well, at least until some minor robotic problems culminate in an accident on one of the roller coasters, and injury to a young rider. Utopia's manager, Sarah Boatwright, calls in the original designer of the computer system and robots, Dr. Andrew Warne. Believing the problems are truly minor, he combines business with pleasure by bringing with him his 14 year old daughter, Georgia. Personal complications are immediately obvious; Sarah lived with Andrew until she left to manage Utopia; Georgia detests Sarah; Andrew still hankers after Sarah, who meantime has become deeply involved with her suave English assistant, Fred Barksdale.

Just as Andrew is starting work, a series of accidents disrupts the park and the leader of a mysterious group of terrorists surfaces, threatening to cause further accidents which will kill thousands of visitors, if his demands are not met. The group appears to have control over the entire park computer systems and robots. The usual exciting complications ensue, as Sarah tries to meet the terrorists' demands while Andrew slowly puzzles out the problems with the robots. There are, of course, wheels within wheels within wheels, (which is a lousy metaphor for such high-tech shenanigans,) but there is plenty of action and excitement as well, and a robotic dog called Wingnut, who is a fine invention. Good easy reading.

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