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Encyclopedia > Idlewild (book)

Idlewild is a science fiction novel by Nick Sagan, published in 2003. The story is split between two settings: the middle of the 21st century (told as interludes and distinguished from the main story by Italics) and a generation later. Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Nick Sagan (b. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The story told in the interludes is set in the middle of the 21st century. Here, a retrovirus called Black Ep has rendered all of humanity infertile. It went undetected by hiding in the human genome itself. Humanity, realising that the end of the world is imminent, promptly unites in a show of universal brotherhood. However, in the lab of a major German-American genetic research facility, a group of scientists(referred to throughout the interludes as The Southern Gentleman, Blue, and Halfway Jim) are working on a project which may just save humanity. The project involves childraising in virtual reality. To test the efficiency of the software, Halfway Jim creates a program designed to mimic the responses of a real child. Out of sentimentality, Jim's dying act is to integrate this program, who he names Malachi, into the program. The 21st century is the century that began on 1 January 2001 and will last to 31 December 2100. ...


The second location is an IVR (Immersive Virtual Reality) medical academy in Idlewild, Michigan, at some time in the late 21st century. The main character of the book, a young man named Halloween, wakes up with no memory. As the book progresses, we discover that Lazarus (another student of the academy) is dead. Halloween meets the rest of the students and tries to find the culprit. Virtual Reality (VR) is an environment that is simulated by a computer. ...

Of the students, most of the ones we meet are named for holy people, and are using synonyms (for example, Halloween's real name is Gabriel, and his friends' real names are given as Lazarus, Isaac, Vashti and Adam). Halloween suspects that he may have killed Lazarus, so he does not confide in anyone. He spends some time with his friend Mercutio, who is fascinated with the story of the Taj Mahal(after its builder became king, he killed all his male relatives). He sees a black-and-white boy in his dreams.

At a party, Mercutio breaks the rules, which brings the governor program, an entity known as Maestro, to the scene. Using a prepared code, Mercutio breaks the system. With information gathered in the course of his murder investigation, Halloween is able to get out of the broken system, to what he assumes will be the Idlewild IVR Medical Academy in Michigan.

Instead, he finds out that his entire life was spent in a pod. The periods of time he spent out of the school were just extended periods of virtual reality. The ten students of the school - five boys and five girls - are divided between five different locations in Europe and America, with one in space, guarding against the possibility of some catastophe. Halloween and Fantasia break out of their facility, steal a car, and decide to wake up one of their friends, not being able to wake the others due to the distance between the pods. They then go to the site of the Centre Site to release their other friends, which has the real-world address of the virtual school. There, they are attacked by the murderer - Mercutio. They battle and Mercutio dies. Afterwards, Halloween finds Mercutio's online diary. He found out about the true nature of the school a year too early, and became obsessed with killing the rest of the male students and repopulating the planet himself.

Having said goodbye to his classmates, the book ends with Halloween standing in the woods of North Michigan, angry at the world for robbing him of his illusions, the girl he loved and his two best friends.

A sequel, Edenborn, was published in 2004. It is set 18 years after Idlewild, and shows disagreements between the students as to how to build a better world.

  Results from FactBites:
Idlewild Nick Sagan G (1091 words)
In the case of Nick Sagan’s first book, Idlewild, the film was The Matrix, and the lineage was his famed father, pop astronomer Carl Sagan.
Unfortunately, the film his book is compared to is not exactly a masterpiece to begin with, and the son lacks the father’s prose ability.
Idlewild is a typical near-future thriller- ala Blade Runner, revolving around the titular hometown of the main character named Hal, short for Halloween.
Nick Sagan Online (1645 words)
Fierce, smart and stylish in equal measure, Idlewild fuses imagination with wit to produce an unforgettable debut.
Idlewild is Nick Sagan's first novel, but he writes like an old hand.
Remarkably readable and cleverly constructed, this book tackles many issues, including the nature of reality, man's inhumanity to man, hubris, betrayal and the ethics of science's potential to manipulate human development.
  More results at FactBites »



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