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September 1, 2006 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Help find a SF book that my friend can't quite recall, but remembers themes of?

Thanks in advance for any and all help. Her description:

So, it's a science fiction book. It takes place at a time when the air is so bad that you can't really go outside too much or often. I think I remember something about aliens, but I don't remember enough to elaborate on that point. The book is about this man who works answering history questions. He's attached to this online network thing in his head, and he simply closes his eyes and logs on. He gets paid to answer obscure history questions. He discovers some kind of plot, and gets in a lot of trouble. I think the plot has something to do with the aliens.. or a government/corporate coverup to keep people in line.. something like that. I remember liking it quite a bit.
posted by Meep! Eek! to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Feed, by M.T. Anderson, is a damn good YA novel with some elements similar to the book you're talking about (poisoned air and environment, implanted chips called "feeds" in everyone's brain that link to an impossibly functional supernet solely powered by brainwaves) but I'm sure it's not it. I recommend it anyway if you like that sort of thing.
posted by changeling at 10:30 PM on September 1, 2006

Uh, maybe one of John Brunner's books?
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:46 PM on September 1, 2006

I believe you're thinking of "The Sheep Look Up", freshwateR_pr0n, but I don't think that's the novel in question.
posted by Justinian at 1:20 AM on September 2, 2006

Best answer: The themed indexes at scifan.com are good for looking for this kind of thing, especially if she thinks she might recognise the title or author if they appear in the results.
posted by teleskiving at 2:44 AM on September 2, 2006

This sounds like a synthesis of several Brunner books. In Stand on Zanzibar, one of the protagonists is an information analyst who links together obscure trends in news and historical information, although I don't think he's linked to any internal network. Pollution is bad, but not as bad as in The Sheep Look Up; is the online-network-in-one's-head in Shockwave Runner?
posted by nonane at 7:11 AM on September 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I haven't heard back from her if any of them have gotten her the book she's thinking of, but I really appreciate all the help.

If anyone has any further suggestions, please feel free. :)

teleskiving: I have no idea if that index will do ~her~ any good, but I'm thrilled to hear of it. Thank you very much!
posted by Meep! Eek! at 11:03 AM on September 2, 2006

"Ivory" by Mike Resnik comes close, except for the pollution angle, and the fact that the protagonist talks to his computer, rather than logging on in his head. It's about a search for the tusks of the Kilaminjaro Elephant, and the last Maasai.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:26 PM on September 2, 2006

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