Although the action takes place in the year 2051, this first novel
by Joshua Ortega is not exactly science fiction. It's more of a
cautionary tale, especially tailored for our age.
The setting is the greater Seattle area, where an exponential rate
of progress has, in less than half a century, produced a society
that no longer has a middle class, where most people travel by
ground-limited mass transit, but wealthy individuals --- and
government workers, including police and other law enforcement ---
take to the sky. "Cars" now fly. They can be flown both manually
and by computer.
Everything, in fact, can now be done by computer --- and that is
the point of this novel --- though it's a kind of computer control
different from anything we have yet seen.
Our hero is an agent named Marc McCready. He's a Freemon, a kind of
mid-21st century FBI guy. His job is to check out deviant thought
patterns among the mass of the populace. This is possible because
the Ordosoft founder, W.A. Huxton, discovered early in the century
that all living things vibrate along a certain frequency.
Therefore, they can be monitored on this frequency, and they are
--- except the very rich, who can afford to pay the government what
it costs for complete freedom of thought.
It was desire on the part of the people to have easier, faster
access to all that the rapidly advancing technological world has to
give that got everybody into this situation in the first place.
Have you ever sat in front of your computer seething with
impatience for a web page to come up? Looking for no-glitch
broadband? Think it would be cool to have your house lights come on
as soon as you set your foot in the door? Think it would be even
cooler if your house could immediately identify if that foot
belonged to somebody else, not you? Think how great it would be if
your TV never let you forget the kind of program you usually like
to watch, could get your attention and remind you even if you
didn't know a particular program was going to be on? Well, see, all
this and much, much more is possible --- all you have to do is have
this tiny little chip thing implanted, painlessly, in your
Having the wrong kind of thoughts is called "freeking." Many words
are spelled phonetically 50 years in the future, which is not at
all surprising, considering the direction in which the language is
already going. When our story opens, ordinary citizens are freeking
out in record numbers all over Seattle, and Marc is becoming
He gets sidetracked, or so it seems, when Mason Huxton, father of
the founder --- who lives in a huge house that resembles a castle
and is literally built in the air above Bellevue Island --- has a
wife who freeks. Naturally, he calls on a Freemon for help, and the
agency (read FBI) sends Marc. Mason, an interesting guy in his own
right, soon finds that his wife's problem is only the tip of the
iceberg. The real problem is something or someone called The
Presence, who can only be perceived virtually. The Presence has
found a way into the frequencies that control all life, and the
Presence is a kind of revolutionary force. For good or evil? Ah,
well, there's the Big Question.
Mason Huxton not only has a wife but also a daughter named Ashley
(and a son, who doesn't appear often in the story); since his whole
family is threatened, Marc is assigned to be Ashley's bodyguard.
She is an interesting character, the future's version of a free
spirit. Her inherited wealth means she is free from having her
thoughts monitored, though Marc (being equipped, as a Freemon) can
do it --- just as he can read the thought levels of Mason's
troubled wife, who is a clone of the real, now-frozen wife.
Ashley's thoughts are often in the orange and red zones, which are
forbidden to most people. Marc's thoughts are often there too,
which is the biggest reason for his chosen profession --- he wanted
the freedom, and monitoring others was not too big a price to pay
Ashley and Marc bear the seeds of revolution themselves and, as the
story advances, Ortega demonstrates a powerful ability to draw
readers into his created future world.
Although getting into it for the first few pages was a bit tedious,
I soon found the book hard to put down. Ortega, who by profession
is a journalist specializing in the coverage of technological
issues, has a lot of worthwhile things to say and he says it well
in this work of fiction. We should thank Jodere Group, San Diego
publishers, for putting this book in our hands --- and I hope
FREQUENCIES will win broad recognition for Ortega, so that he can
continue to entertain us and make us think.
Reviewed by Ava Dianne Day on January 22, 2011
- Publication Date: November 30, -0001
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Jodere Group
- ISBN-10: 1588720691
- ISBN-13: 9781588720696