In book one, Pop Travel, we meet J L Cooper, widower PI and general dropout from life. He is hired to find out what happened to a man’s wife, and in the course of this investigation, stumbles on a massive conspiracy focused on the transformative technology known as Pop Travel. It’s a kind of instant teleportation from place to place. Advantages include instant travel, popping cures disease and intoxication. Disadvantages include exploding in a shower of glitter. Cooper encounters Geri, an agent assigned to derail his investigation. Or kill him. Either way. We are also introduced to Hasan, known as The Creator, the man who invented popping. Once this is resolved, we move on to Simulation, where illegal cone androids known as simulations are being used to replace people. These replacements are part of a larger plot, and sometimes killing using their faces.
Finally, we get to the last book, Disposal.
Cooper and Geri are back together, and Cooper’s nephew Jimmy is staying the summer while his dad is in the home stretch for the Presidency. Cooper is working with a local officer, who makes Geri feel insecure because of her looks. And there is a new drug about to hit the streets – Butter. Butter addicts the user instantly, and over time creates a dependency that allows the user to become a virtual zombie – fully controlled by the dealer.
So, of course, Jimmy gets caught up in the Butter plot as a means to control his father, who is expected to win the White House in a Reagan-like landslide. Cooper pulls all the strings he can to save Jimmy, recruiting Hasan to help break the grip Butter has on users.
So, this is the end of this series, for now at least. As I read them back-to-back, it is hard to fully separate one from the other. But overall, the stories were good, with a lot of interesting looks at a possible future, without any needless message insertions. Message is there, but it is done right – it is part of the plot, not something wedged in to check a box. My main impression is one of a good detective story, solid enough science (teleportation has its own suite of problems, from that whole ‘it kills you’ thing to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle), and good characterizations. The story is solid, it tells one story, isn’t trying to be too clever for the author’s ability to keep secrets, and tells one story. That last matters to me. Too much these days is trying to tell 2 or more stories, and seldom do we see an author who can pull that off. Not an issue here – each book is one story, contained, with subplots to be sure, but not subplots masquerading as plots. You get a good book, and one that is enjoyable to read.
I did have one real issue with the series, and it is worst in the first book. The near worship of Hasan, who invented pop travel, as The Creator (it’s caps in the book too). I get that something so revolutionary would make him a celebrity, and likely a Steve Jobs on HGH, ‘roids, and literally every other performance enhancing substance ever level of celebrity. But still…it gets to be a lot too much. Hasan is more-or-less charming with his mangling of idiom and metaphor, but the whole Creator thing was a bit much.
And that was really the main complaint of the whole series. Cooper and Geri were well done, the various side characters were exactly as detailed as they needed to be, and there weren’t any holes in the plot I could see. This was a perfectly enjoyable read, and a good journey from point to point.