Elly Bangs’ Unity is a novel dealing with I, a cyberpunk of possibly post cyberpunk world. There are cybernetic enhancements, data uploads, terrifying weapons and a variety of other problems. One of the greatest threats in this society is nanotechnology, already seen as an apocalyptic risk. Indeed as the story opens, a war seems very near, one of a string of apocolypses.
There are about four points of view that dominate the text of Unity, although given the concepts of gestalt consciousness and technological advancement, even that is somewhat questionable.
I, Danae, Alexei, and Borrower represent the primary point of vies in this particular volume.
I is an unusual figure, one whom represents some degree of disconnect, very clear memories from varied times and places which do not always clearly matchup. What exactly this point of view is becomes clear as the narrative progresses, and it is one of two very interesting choices made in the use of first person point of view.
Danae is the second the reader will meet, in a quick move. There is some discussion going on between Danae and another viewpoint character Naoto in which many details of the situation are framed, including Danae’s need to be smuggled out of the area, a place called Bloom City. There is clearly something beyond the normal about the young woman, from a very strange set of ethics to a mission to go home while sure she cannot ever be welcome.
Naoto is a young man very much in live with Danae, whom knows more about her than many do while also clearly not even beginning to understand the exact nature of what he knows. He is an artist, a frustrated pluralist in a somewhat closed habitat, and for all the excuses he makes Danae is clearly his world. While not given his own point of views sections, the depiction of him from an opponent of other characters is fairly uniform.
Alexei is a hardened soldier, a former child soldier. He also has a death wish, performing mercenary duties in a strange effort to die. He is businesslike, loyal, and has an associate on comms trying to help. He is also the figure Danae hires to help her out of Bloom city and instead towards her old home in a place in what we now think of as Arizona.
One point of view comes from the Borrower, and it is without a doubt the other extremely unusual point of view. The initial appearance gives the reader an understanding that this is an outsider of some sort, and as the section it seems like it will be a relatively short one. This figure is looking forward to being allowed to die, and is clearly working very hard to hunt someone down. The way that later sections follow this point of view is most unusual, and allows a forking if the ideas from Danae’s life and I’s point of view.
This volume is pitched as friendly to queer audiences and readers. While such bigotry is depicted as negative, the discussions of gender diversity are relatively brief, do when they appear they are of course interest and inclusive. Further, the romantic relationships which appear are heterosexual. They are well depicted, however it is an odd thing in a book pitched in this fashion.
Elly Bangs’ Unity is a fascinating little novel, filled with unexpected turns and twists to a set of concepts that are extremely familiar to a scifi reader. The concepts explored here have been touched on before, however the writer’s style does a great deal to remind the reader that individual point of view is important, even when combined with others.