Symptomatic of a world where Ready Player One is in cinemas, Connect maps the journey of teenage Colt and his scientist mother as they escape from a near future Nevada and a government that want Naomi’s biotech research for military use.
Gough, who in 2011 wrote the ‘ending’ to Minecraft, illustrates the feeling of suspension between the digital and reality well, his tactile language weaving the characters between these worlds seamlessly. Colt’s development in connecting with people and his own feelings unfolds smoothly throughout, but it comes at the cost of presenting women as crackable units to be puzzled out. Gough had the opportunity to create a different set of female characters and yet even in this futuristic novel the story is plagued with pages worth of soft porn oriented around the only two female characters. It is disappointing Gough does not use this platform to break the otherness of women in tech, as opposed to presenting them as novelty sexual exploits. Further, the world Gough creates does not always do his adventure justice, with the plot regularly advancing through the deus ex machina of tech jargon.
If the reader can set aside these issues, Connect is an enjoyable story of good versus bad and the cat and mouse game that entails, but it also raises the question of why female representation in science fiction is so often lacking.
Words: Emma Flynn