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Julia and the Dream Maker    by P. J. Fischer Amazon.com order for
Julia and the Dream Maker
by P. J. Fischer
Order:  USA  Can
Traitor Dachshund, 2003 (2003)
Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Julia and the Dream Maker is completely different from any novel I have ever read. In it, P. J. Fischer creates a believable future in which biology and math combine to form a completely new dimension.

Steven, his girlfriend Eli, and their roommate Bennie need to find a way to pay their bills while finishing college. Bennie, the more business minded, suggests that they create and sell 'virtual buddies' to raise cash. Though Eli is hesitant, Steven decides to join Bennie in creating a new toy. However, since he is also busy working on his dissertation (using nanotechnology and math formulas to assist cells in protein creation) Steven decides to test his theory on the 'vbuddy'. What emerges is a holographic rabbit capable of carrying on a conversation and learning new things. Taking it a step further, Steven develops a formula that allows the rabbit to create its own world. What Steven hopes for, but does not expect, is that this new world will evolve and become an intricate part of his and Eli's life. Yet before Steven can learn the final results of his experiment, he's arrested for genetic mutation. While Steven is on trial, the program he created takes Eli into its world to keep her safe.

Julia and the Dream Maker is the first in a series of four books about the world which Steven created. Because of this, a good portion of the novel lays groundwork. In fact, the title character of Julia does not even get started until the last fifty pages. While this may seem like a lot of exposition, it is necessary to the plot. It is not just background information it is the story of Julia's origin. Also, the amount of science Fischer includes may deter some readers. While most science fiction novels incorporate future technology, the way the technology works is not usually detailed. Fischer tries to explain the science that Steven uses in his research. While I applaud his efforts, some of the explanations confused me more than they educated me. At points I had to just assume that this science was possible and take for granted that it would work.

Fischer takes a close view of the future. The story takes place at the end of this century in a world not very different from what we live in today. Technological advances all seem like feasible extrapolations. For instance, the author does not imagine hover crafts but rather standard cars with programmable controls allowing them to drive themselves. This vision does not seem far fetched considering some of the sophisticated navigational devises being installed in cars today. Julia and the Dream Maker is an eloquently written novel. While its scientific explanations may turn some readers away, those who trudge through them will anticipate the next book in the series this one's ending leaves you wanting more.

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