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Wired    by Robert L. Wise order for
by Robert L. Wise
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Warner, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

It is the year 2022, the location - the City of Chicago. Robert L. Wise introduces readers to his Tribulation Survival series that begins with Wired. In a world 'gone mad', earth's existence hangs in the balance. Graham Peck serves as special political assistant to Mayor Frank Bridges of Chicago. Mayor Bridges and staff prepare for a re-election campaign, with their sights on the United States presidency. The Mayor and his 'Inner Circle' promise total care for every citizen. Personal security is facilitated by a dot-mark on each forehead, allowing officials to monitor loyalists. A curfew is set and the City placed under military rule.

In a world run amok, a bomb explodes in Long Beach destroying a oil tanker. Millions of people have disappeared. Weather has taken an odd turn with tidal waves, snow, hailstorms, and a strange colored moon. All churches are closed. Religion is viewed as 'a bunch of nonsense'. Slum areas of Chicago increase in number along with alcohol use, immoral behavior, thefts and shootings. Graham and his wife Jackie Peck go about their daily lives with their four children and Graham's mother Maria. Their eldest son Matthew is a student at Northwestern, where a group called the New Seekers meet secretly to discuss world events. They seek knowledge and solace in the Bible. The group is introduced to Matthew Peck who, in turn, shares the knowledge with his family.

In Nicosia, Cyprus a meeting of minds resumes under the leadership of Hassan Jawhar Rashid (a.k.a. Borden Camber Carson), Egypt's representative Ali Mallawi, Syria's Abd al Bari, Ammar Yaswad of Iran, and Ali from Arabia. They are in agreement that they are 'poised to control the United States' along with the oil industry. Rashid points at each leader as he states, 'Will you follow me faithfully as I resolutely climb the hill to world conquest?' In a secret underground laboratory at the University of Illinois Microfabrication Research Labs government scientists are developing nanorobots - odd microzoan creatures which can search out subversives. Nanometers in size, they are smaller than the diameter of a human hair and capable of entering the human body.

Graham's family mourns the death of Maria, who is shot and killed by a vagrant at the Peck's home as young Greg watches in horror. When Matthew asks what happened to Grandma after she died, no one is able to answer. A bomb explodes at the Museum of Science and Industry Building killing many. Mayor Bridges promises Graham 'if you play your cards right ...'. By now Graham has many doubts about the Mayor, his actions, and especially his connection with Borden Camber Carson, and control of the world's oil and hydrogen industry. Graham decides to verbalize his doubts and to take action. He says to his family 'I'll probably crawl on the end of a weak limb ... we may have to move fast ... I hope I don't crash to the ground.'

Wise renders a riveting SF read about a troubled future, with questions about good and evil, and control versus safety of the population. The book's name relates to the vast hook-up of technological devices and surveillance equipment throughout the city. Although Wired's premise is similar to other end-times renditions, details differ in plot, character experiences, and locations. And the chilling, abrupt conclusion is not really an ending!

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