by Greg Bear
Synopsis of Dead Lines
It's three years from today. Dr. Kevin Faraday believes that he has found the pathway to wherever the living go when they die. Dr. Faraday is about to learn what it means to be damned. The nation's biggest communication businesses have been doing research on the limits of data speed. Soon, houses, cars, refrigerators, televisions, wrist watches, eye glasses, earrings, will all talk to information centres and receive news, guidance, entertainment, and upgrades for essential services. Companies will sell whole-body networks that can instantly transmit data to doctors and hospitals around the world. No one will ever need to be alone and in danger again -- but demand is outstripping supply. Wireless bandwidth is already at a premium, and the future of communication is being strangled at infancy. Then Dr Kevin Faraday discovers a hitherto unknown channel that can handle almost infinite volumes of data. There is a problem, however. This channel seems to already be in use. And it can't be decoded. Sending experimental data has unexpected consequences, small at first but growing in weirdness and intensity. Slowly, Faraday puts together a new hypothesis. He comes to believe that he has found the pathway to wherever the living go when they die. To clog it with spam, music videos, and cell phone calls could shut down the most important journey we will ever have to make, and leave us stranded where we no longer belong. But the fortunes to be made are too great to ignore. The decision is no longer in the hands of scientists. Dr. Faraday is about to learn what it means to be damned.