Sunday, June 13, 2021

The City We Became

 


There is a threat to New York of ‘Lovecraftian’ proportions, waged on New York by parallel universe apparitions. I thought I’d try the 2020 BSFA winner, a disappointment to me as there was more fantasy and less science fiction, apart from patchy references to multi-verse theory. Jesmin moves away from the ‘other world’ settings of her previous award-winning novels to an Earthbound location. New York is where five avatars representing the major Burroughs of New York defend their city against an ‘other-universe’ threat that feeds on cities that are about to transform to a higher level of consciousness.


The five characters are pitched in the same direction to find a primary avatar unconscious somewhere in the city. Finding and joining him is their only hope of defeating an adversary that destroys whole worlds. Jesmin’s new novel, as always, is filled with witty prose, but it wasn’t enough to engage me. In the end, I skimmed through the story, so it would be unfair to rate it. Readers looking for insightful fantasy with a strong social commentary bent will rate this highly. Science fiction fans may do better to read Jesmin’s earlier work.




Monday, April 12, 2021

Necrogarden

 


Necrogarden (Book Two: NeuralTech Rising Series)


Necrogarden, the second in Bryon Vaughn's trilogy, moves straight into the action as agents Landry and Mack give chase to Jenny and Leo. They, against the odds, escaped the Garden, a terrifying, secret technological construct powered by human minds. 


As the title implies, Necrogarden takes a sinister turn from its prequel, Neurogarden, introducing a dark assortment of antagonists, Takahiro and Mack, both prepared to unleash brutal violence on their targets, "seeking the next level of pain". The quick move to action grips the reader from the beginning, although it helps to have read book one. 


Brenna, the ruthless CEO of NeuralTech, barely holds the reins of her company. Now she enlists Artificial Intelligence, in the guise of her virtual assistant, Hal, to run the Garden. However, Hal goes rogue, carefully manipulating all around him to gain control.


All the main characters from the first book, Brenna, Jenny and Leo, are unwittingly caught in Hal's deceptive web, challenging their motives. Other characters, such as Brenna's father, are seamlessly linked into the story without any drop in pacing.


Vaughn's novel takes a decidedly dark turn from the first novel, moving more to horror than science fiction, but it's the thriller elements that bind this fast-paced story. For those who like their antagonists with a sadistic bent, this novel is for you. 4 STARS



Neurogarden (Book One: NeuralTech Rising Series)


Neurogarden, Bryon Vaughn's imaginative debut novel, delves into the possible future of AI technology. The theme is a familiar one: the corporate impulse to exploit profit and power no matter how questionable the technology versus those who see the moral disadvantage. It reminds me a little of Neuromancer, but with less tech and more of the thriller element. 


The CEO of NeuralTech Corporation, Brenna Patrick, has developed the world's most effective and accurate facial recognition system. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted the Department of Defence's collaborative funding, but the company's operations are not what they seem.


The antagonist, Brenna Patrick, possesses a ruthless ambition and superior intelligence that drives her to succeed no matter the cost, both to herself or those who dare to cross her path. A perfectionist at heart in all things, Brenna possesses a selfish streak that ultimately leads to her downfall.


The protagonist, Jenny Marcado, loyally supported by her grad student friend, Leo Marino, inadvertently fall into Brenna's dark web whilst innocently pitching their business acumen to NeuralTech. Jenny's presentation fearlessly speaks the truth to power, impressing Brenna and sparking an interest between them that extends beyond professional competence. A fatal attraction develops.


Jenny and Leo are drawn ever deeper into Brenna's shadowy corporate web, leading to a thrilling cat and mouse game between those who wish to expose NeuralTech's secrets and those who want to protect them.


I enjoy the new wave of tech science fiction, exploring the impact of new technology on society. Vaughn's take on 'The Garden' was an intriguing and imaginative journey. It took some time to reach the action as it introduced character backstories, unnecessarily slowing the pace. That said, the second half of the book quickly gathers momentum. Vaughn's atmospheric prose soars when it reaches the beating heart of NeuralTech's technology, 'The Garden'. The imaginative dreamlike experience is effectively counterbalanced with thriller elements, making for an entertaining and thought-provoking story.


Fans of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and Philip K Dick's Minority Report should enjoy Neurogarden. 4 Stars


Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Australian and British Science Fiction Awards 2020



Australian Science Fiction Awards


The Aurealis Awards are an annual literary award for Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction. It was established in 1995 by Chimera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis Magazine.


The Aurealis nominations are out for the best science fiction novels for 2020. There is a good mix of new writers and previous winners and nominees.

The nominations are:


Ghost Species, James Bradley;


Aurora Burning, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff;


Fauna, Donna Mazza;


The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay;


The Mother Fault, Kate Mildenhall;


Repo Virtual, Corey J White.



British Science Fiction Awards


The 2020 British Science Fiction Awards (BSFA) are awarded every year by the British Science Fiction Association based on the votes of BSFA members, and in recent years, members of the British National Science Fiction Convention, Eastercon.

The 2020 awards will be held online from April 2 to 5, 2021. The nominees for all categories can be viewed on this link.


There’s an interesting group of science fiction novels this year and I have read one of the nominations. 

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. 


Two more interesting standouts for me are:


Threading the Labyrinth by Tiffany Angus; and 


Water Must Fall by Nick Wood.






Thursday, March 4, 2021

Premium Virtual Tour: Chandelier



CHANDELIER is the genre-bending follow-up of Michael Leon’s 2019 fantasy-romance novel, PHANTOMS. 


Set a hundred years into the future, AI has achieved super intelligence and surpassed human knowledge, and yes humanity’s existence had been challenged. However, AI developed a solution, residing in their own ‘Virtual Earth’, leaving humans, now a minority, to share an environmentally damaged Earth with post-humans, technologically enhanced humans who are the dominant species. 


This uneasy alliance is governed under the watchful eye of AI. AI sentients, near perfect human replicas, have been developed as a method of better understanding humans. They possess only some of the vast cognitive powers of AI’s residing in Virtual Earth. Unaware of their origins, they believe they are human. 


This is the story of one such sentient, Benny, a talented musician, who is hired by a famous opera singer, Madame D’Arenberg (Diva), to help fulfill her final performance at the Garnier. Benny initially welcomes the opportunity, before he is swept up in the Phantom’s world, exposing him to the deadly web cast over two centuries and the awful truth about Diva’s life.





Blog 1 - Chapter Reveal





This week we provide an excerpt from Chapter One of Chandelier, Benny and the Diva.


A century has passed since the fabled Phantom ruled the Garnier Opera House. Multiple generations of patrons have felt his wrath, including Madame D’Arenberg, referred to as Diva, a famous French opera singer who is now a centenarian post-human. (humans with technological implants)


She prepares for her final appearance at the Garnier for the 2121AD opening night of Verdi’s La Traviata. Her greatest love has long passed and she is now cared for by Peri (a human) and Dr Flynn (a humanoid). On Peri’s recommendation, Diva attends a performance by Benny, a musician who scrapes out a living as a pianist in a nightclub. Diva is affected by his unique musicianship and hires him to write a song for her final concert.



Excerpt from Chapter One

Hotel patrons streamed in from all corners of Paris SC (Super City) into Benny's world. The high-level retreat filled with an atmospheric fog, not from long-banned substances, but personal coms, permanently activated by the long-haulers, post-humans who congregated after a fifty straight hours shift. Some welcomed Benny's music but most preferred the personalised entertainment from their com. A few humans, 'old gen's' were scattered around the room, mostly aids accompanying wealthy post-humans, the new elite. 

Benny practised scales masquerading as background music before turning his talents to playing neoclassical noir in an attempt to break through their digital wall of indifference. Halfway into the musical arrangement, he scaled up the digital accompaniment, unable to play the piano's challenging set. The loss of control baffled him. What was usually easy could become an alarming challenge as his mind struggled to connect the paper's voluminous notes with his hand coordination. He played the more straightforward accompaniment with his good right hand. No one seemed to notice his struggle. He glanced across to the best tables, lining the panoramic view of the whirlpool of districts spiking web-like across the super city, housing the vast majority of the French population. They weren't even interested in Paris's most lovely view. Why should they care about his music?


The views that evening offered a special treat. Stars momentarily appeared in the sky, a rare event as the permanently thick cumulus layers choked the Earth's post-industrial stratosphere. A clearer view lay below. Climate roads cut green lines between a vast sea of regenerated buildings. Their cloud scraper fronted a 'farmlane', the largest of the old highways approved for farming under artificial 'sunstrips' where autonomous croppers tended to the super-city's food chain. 


Benny was the only unaccompanied human in the house. He relished the challenge of drawing post-humans attention from their virtual lives, but most nights, he failed, playing his heart out to phantoms, no longer fascinated by the natural world. Surprisingly, one table was taking an interest. 


Chapter One Podcast 

Like the excerpt? Listen to the podcast of Chapter One, Benny and Diva, and hear the song that motivated the chapter.







Blog 2 - World Build





This week we look at the world of one of the characters from Chandelier. The story line crosses two centuries, the 21st and 22nd. There is the world of Erik, the modern day Phantom of the Opera (2021AD) and Benny’s world one hundred years in the future. Benny is a humanoid who finds himself drawn into The Phantom’s realm as he tries to help the famous diva, Madame D’Arenberg, whose life was fatefully entangled with the Phantom’s a century earlier.


Today we examine Benny and the Diva’s 22nd century civilization, a future world I developed in a previous novel, Sentient.


Earth 2121AD

A century on and Earth’s population has peaked to nine billion. The human species has been relegated to minority status as post-humans become the dominant race on Earth. A century of rampant unchecked climate and technological change and subsequent catastrophic global pandemics, has laid claim to the very young, accelerating post-human development. Humans are mostly assigned to repairing the environmental damage they perpetrated on Earth. Nearly all new born are assigned post-human surgery as their only route to long term survival. Whereas post-humans, with superior technological and robotic enhancements and a 200 year life span, develop interplanetary and interstellar exploration and habitation. 


Artificial Intelligence achieved singularity and were willingly handed governance over a troubled Earth. While they govern Earth, most AI sentients reside in a virtual Earth known as the sensorium, but a small number are assigned to android hosts on Earth, known as humanoids, human-looking, with sentient capabilities undetectable so that they can go about their assigned programs on Earth, to better human/post-human/AI relations. Their intelligence is limited to particular skills and they are purposely programmed to be unaware of their sentient heritage and believe they are humans.


Benny is a humanoid, his specialist capability, music. He has worked the bars and night clubs of Paris Super City for all of his programmed life until a post-human walks in on one of his performances. He is offered a job to develop music for the diva’s final performance at the Garnier, the opera house she ruled as the world’s best opera singer a century earlier. Benny believes he has found his true calling as he assists the diva. However, as events unfold, Benny is increasingly drawn into worlds he could never have imagined, as another humanoid, Flynn, shows him the true extent of his powers, exploring other dimensions and time itself, where he observes the Diva’s life when she was the toast of France and came under the spell of the Phantom’s deadly web.


I enjoyed blurring the past with the future in this genre bending tale. It's impossible to predict what that world will be, but like the current tech revolution was unimaginable to our forefathers, so too the next hundred years would appear more as a magical fantasy world to us. 








Blog 3 - Author Interview





This week we ask the author what is the importance of research in novel writing?


Research is a very important component of the writing process. Given Chandelier is a follow up novel of my 2019 book, Phantoms, much of the background research was already done.


There are two levels of research, secondary and primary. In my previous career in international business, I’d research as much as I could about the country and its markets before travelling there to carry out field interviews with business operators. I use much the same process for fictional writing.


Secondary Research: To write Phantoms, I researched and read the many adaptions of the famous tale, as well as the original novel, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Like many books, there are film and theatre versions as well, and Phantom of the Opera is more widely known from the stunning success of the musical adaption. After watching the theatre version, reading the original book falls flat compared to the high drama of the musical, but Leroux’s work remains a uniquely creative work.


I also use Verdi’s opera as the backdrop of my novels so I had to research Verdi’s work before deciding on the appropriate operas. I used Macbeth in Phantoms and decided on La Traviata in Chandelier, as the story revolves around the sacrifice of the female lead, Violetta. 


Primary Research: This was the fun bit! Long before writing Phantoms, I lived in France for three months spending equal time in Bordeaux, Lyon and Paris. As a francophile, I enjoyed living among the French and experiencing their unique culture. I was invited to an opera at the Garnier in Paris and never forgot the experience. It is a stunning opera house filled with history, stunning architecture and of course the stories of the famed opera ghost, making for an unforgettable experience. It left an indelible mark on my life, so much so, I co-wrote Phantoms as a tribute to the experience. I also have a picture of that visit containing the Phantom’s signature. I believe he appeared with me in a photo taken of me in the Garnier, but I’ll let you decide! Can you see the shape of the Phantom’s face on my shirt?





Blog 4 - Chapter Reveal





This week’s blog provides an excerpt from Chapter 10 of Chandelier, Philippe and Viola.


Philippe is the older brother of Raoul, descendants of wealthy aristocratic parents. Unlike his brother, Philippe has squandered his inheritance from an addiction to gambling. Living in Italy and beholden to the mafia who funded his gambling debts, Philippe runs a mafia owned jazz club as a way of repaying his debts. There, he meets a promising singer, Viola, who wants one day to perform opera. Secretly, they become lovers and Philippe begins to hatch a plan to return to the Garnier and with the mafia’s support, manage the Garnier Opera company and help Viola achieve her dream.


Excerpt from Chapter 10

"I do it mainly for you," Viola replied, seemingly hurt by Philippe's slight.


"Let's get this straight, Viola. We work for Capo. Reggi reports to Capo. You do nothing to raise his suspicions, including fraternising with any of the family’s clientele."


"Reggi doesn't have any interest in my singing. Why should I care or even bother helping him or you?" she replied, noticeably hurt.


"Because you want to be a diva. Remember?"


Viola let go of her warm embrace, any desires she had for him spent. She brushed her long hair over her shoulders, and adjusted her top, walking toward the entry, not caring to look back, and pronouncing defiantly, "more than anything or anyone," before disappearing into the night club, her musical home.


Philippe watched her walk to the entry. Viola had the voice of an angel and the curvy body to match. He didn't hold back, showing his new performer that she had the appeal of a diva with the alluring charms of a goddess, but their relationship remained playful even though he lusted for her. If not for Reggi, he would have taken her on their first day together. Viola had Christine's voice and Carlotta’s body, a charismatic force that would take them to the Garnier. He just had to persuade Capo.


The lights faded in the club as the stage lit up, revealing Viola at the front, her band jamming in the background. Philippe rejoined Reggi, two cutty sark whiskies in hand, one for his overly intoxicated companion. Mercifully, alcohol brought out Reggi's brighter side, allowing both to enjoy Viola's soothing tones and her backing band. He cast an eye across the audience, primarily enamoured men, studying Viola's amply filled black dress. She played to them with all the skill of a woman who'd learnt to seduce to overcome a meagre past. He believed that to be the single biggest reason for her succeeding in the most challenging and demanding industry in the world, opera.


Chapter 10 Podcast 

Like the excerpt? Listen to the podcast of Chapter 10, Philippe and Viola.







Blog 5 - Chapter Reveal





This week’s blog provides an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Chandelier, Erik and Carlotta. In the first book, Phantoms, Erik has escaped the police who had closed in on his reign of terror over the Garnier Opera house a year earlier. He has sought refuge in Italy where he undertook facial surgery to change his appearance. Whilst healing, he hatches a plan to once again control the Garnier Opera company, this time legitimately as a company director, working with the artistic director. His plan includes winning the friendship of Carlotta, the most famous diva in Europe and the majority owner of the company. Passionate lovers a year earlier, they ruthlessly seized control of the Garnier, before losing it all.


Excerpt from Chapter 6

It had been a decade since Erik walked through the gothic doors of the Basilica of the Sacre-coeur, the famous church overlooking Paris from the summit of Montmarte. Ambling through its quiet pews, he made time for prayer, wishing Rose happiness in her next life. She deserved more in her short time but he’d failed her. Erik looked up to the morning lit gothic windows, admiring the coloured hues that shone through stained glass. It reminded him of the unique light that adorned his home beneath the Garnier where he plotted revenge for Rose. A tide of anger built in him, threatening to overrule his new purpose. In that dark mood, Carlotta was his enemy. He stood up from prayer, fists clenched, wanting to scream out to the empty chamber. “Help me understand,” he cried, looking up to the rays that shone through stained glass windows. A shadowy light danced across the light before circumnavigating the church like a flock of crows. Erik followed the shadows but in a blink they disappeared, as if a phantom controlled the Basilica’s lighting. The event startled him enough to stand and leave. Erik walked to the viewing area not turning back, fighting old notions that invaded his mind, Phantoms he could not let go. 


Erik admired the panoramic view, taking deep breaths of Montmarte’s crisp spring air. The sight and sounds of the ascending funiculaire came to his attention. He could see Carlotta sitting by a window. In short time she joined him at the viewing point. It had been year, enough time to notice the change in her. She walked confidently toward him, smiling briefly in recognition. She’d lost the paleness of her poor health, making him smile, involuntarily, before opening his arms, offering a hint of affection. Carlotta nodded politely, showing a well-deserved caution toward Erik who'd broken the promise he made in Como. 


Erik deflected the slight, pointing to the view. “We are in luck. It’s a perfect day to roam Montmarte.”


“There have been many blue skies this last year,” Carlotta replied, admiring the view and avoiding his gaze. 


“Has it been a year?” Erik replied, drawing a stern glance from Carlotta.


“A good friend would know how long it’s been.”


Chapter 6 Podcast 

Like the excerpt? Listen to the podcast of Chapter 6, Erik and Carlotta.







Blog 6 - Chapter Reveal





This week’s blog provides an excerpt from Chapter 7 of Chandelier, Raoul and Christine. Raoul, Philippes brother, helps Christine to find Philippe, the man she once loved and who mysteriously disappeared a year earlier. They receive tips that he may be living in Italy, so they go to Italy to find him. They quickly learn that finding Philippe is not easy and they face dangers such as threats and extortion. 


Excerpt from Chapter 7

The area surrounding their meeting point with Reggi was every bit as steep and confusing as Raoul had read, but it allowed them time to enjoy Vernazza, offering some respite from the task ahead. The festival also allowed Christine to roam the streets with anonymity behind a pirate mask, allowing a level of freedom they had not enjoyed in a long time, reinforcing their bond and making Raoul regret how he'd treated Christine in their negotiations with Reggi. Raoul had shown too much faith in this stranger and little toward his friend. He would check his emotions, but he would spend the money required to find Philippe. 

The evening was calm and uneventful, but Raoul and Christine expected that to change as they wound their way through the lanes to Bar La Torre. The cafe was perched on one of the highest points in the village, affording a hundred and eighty-degree view of the ocean and shoreline of Vernazza. Cool ocean breezes and the restaurant's vine filled natural deck offered ideal shelter from the warming summer day, as did the refreshing local wines.


"You've never told me what you think happened to Philippe, even after all these years. Why not?" Christine asked.


Raoul caressed her hand, knowing she was right. He'd given up on finding his brother many years earlier, and sure he'd tangled with people who could make any debtor disappear without a trace. He'd returned to Italy more often than he'd wished, more to help Christine than himself. 


"I never wanted to tarnish your good memories of my brother. You got to know the best side of him, the side I very much loved, too. But there was another side to him that only a few saw."


"You mean his gambling?"


Chapter 7 Podcast 

Like the excerpt? Listen to the podcast of Chapter 7, Raoul and Christine.




Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Time Gatherer



Book Overview


Coming of age as a time traveler isn’t easy. Young George St. James gets help from a magical medieval monk and a 23rd century geneticist. But they can’t keep him safe from a secret society dedicated to eliminating time travel. When love unexpectedly arrives in a distant century, George must use all his skill to thwart his foes while trying to save his beloved from their malice.



My Review


The Time Gatherer, a prequel to Rachel Dacus's novel, The Renaissance Club, explores the backstory of George St James, the leader of the Renaissance Club, a group of historians touring Italy. I didn't read the earlier novel, but it wasn't necessary to enjoy its prequel.


The Time Gather provides the YA reader with an enjoyable journey into the world of Renaissance art and time travel. George, the protagonist from 2073 AD, is dealing with the changes of adolescence and a genetic ability to skip through time with a single thought. 


An ensemble of mentors, Sanders his butler, Dr Zheng a 23rd-century geneticist and Bernardo, a medieval monk, assist George. However, George is an impatient student who allows love to get in the way of rational decision making, often running the gauntlet of time travel and the inherent risks, notably being discovered by The Optimalists, who want time gathering outlawed.


He adventures across generations of the creative arts world, from twentieth-century rock music to the seventeenth century's Renaissance art, meeting an assortment of beautiful women, ultimately falling in love with Elisabetta, a gifted Renaissance artist.


The Time Gather is a well crafted YA story that captures the frustrations faced by this very stubborn protagonist. Dacus's vivid and painstakingly crafted descriptions of the art of painting was a joy to read. Whereas her portrayal of time travel training was less convincing and at times rushed. That said, the Time Gatherer is an enjoyable romp for young readers with interest in romance, art and Renaissance history.


Fans of Tempest by Julie Cross and The Here and Now by Ann Brashares should enjoy this book. 4 STARS



Excerpt 


Her hand was limp in his, and her eyes had ceased to move under closed lids.


“Elisabetta?”


He couldn’t take a breath until she took one, but her breathing was shallow and slow. George finally inhaled, a lump in his throat. But he couldn’t allow the tears. Not yet. Not while she lived. 


A single window above her bed let in a feeble shaft of light, but not much air. The stone walls oppressed him. This backward place. If only he could have transported his beloved to the airy apartment he lived in, four hundred years in the future. She could have recovered there. No one could get well in this backward century. 


He had offered to take Elisabetta with him, knowing that she would die of this unknown disease. In his time, they might have been able to cure her, but she’d refused. He wouldn’t force this brilliant young painter to leave everything she’d ever known when that might ruin her and disturb history. 


This was all his fault. If George hadn’t allowed his teenage passion for rock and roll to lead him to an even deeper passion for delving into history, he might not be sitting in this stone-walled room in the seventeenth century, keeping vigil at the bedside of the only woman he would ever love. 


He could jump right now to the future and ask Dr. Zheng for another remedy, but since this one had gone so wrong, the next cure could be worse. And he couldn’t leave Elisabetta alone now. 



Author Bio and Links


Rachel Dacus is the author of three novels touched with the supernatural, The Time Gatherer, The Renaissance Club and The Invisibles. Magical realism also runs through her four poetry collections: Arabesque, Gods of Water and Air, Femme au Chapeau, and Earth Lessons. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Gargoyle, and Prairie Schooner, as well as the anthology Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a tiny but feisty Silky Terrier. She loves exploring the outdoors and raising funds for good causes.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Ancillary Justice

 


Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is set thousands of years into the future when the Radch Empire is the primary galactic power of human-occupied planets and security is maintained by AI-led spaceships with AI-controlled human soldiers (ancillaries).


The main character, Breq, appears to be a soldier seeking revenge, but in reality, she is the last remnants of an AI mind in charge of the starship, Justice of Toren. With only partial recall of her circumstances, Breq pieces together the events that led to her fall, before undertaking a bold quest to kill the all-powerful Lord of Radch Empire, an AI ruler inhabiting multiple bodies.


The plot switches between two timelines. Breq's present-day quest for justice after her ship's destruction, and flashback to the past events leading to her fall.


This deserved winner of all the major SFF awards in 2014 showcased Leckie's writing skills. She is just as assured in her intricate character study of Breq and her reluctant companion Seivarden, as she is with her sweeping space-operatic world build. If not for the demanding and sometimes confusing first section, I'd give it a top rating. 4.5 STARS

Monday, December 28, 2020

Artificial Intelligence

 


A.I. Science Fiction


My next novel, CHANDELIER, will blend science fiction (AI) with classic fantasy (Phantom of the Opera). This year's blog pages will review any activities related to developing my new novel, including interesting SFF books and science articles. I welcome any feedback from fellow SFF readers. If you like what you read, feel free to follow my Twitter and Blog.



Review of Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan


I'm a fan of Ian McEwan's fiction, so I was interested to see how he tackled the Science Fiction genre. As expected, his portrayal of human frailties was well crafted. So, I wasn't surprised when one of his characters, a machine sentient, struggles to make sense of an imperfect world. They couldn't understand us, because we couldn't understand ourselves


Charlie Friend rents a London apartment where he tries to scrape out a living from trading shares. It's 1982 in an alternative history world where Britain loses the Falkland war, John Lennon and Alan Turing are both alive, and the latter is a revered AI scientist who has successfully developed humanoid robots - 13 Eves and 12 Adams.


The world build was creative, but I found the alternate history descriptions mostly an unnecessary annoyance, slowing the main story. Charlie receives an inheritance and given his interest in computing, purchases an Adam. In no time, Adam fits into Charlie's world, including Charlie's neighbour and lover, Miranda. Adam soon falls in love with her, creating an unusual love triangle. The consequences are daunting, leading to spirited discussions, ranging from philosophical to political, and a final confrontation with Adam's maker. 4 STARS



Listen to Ian McEwan talk about AI 














A.I. Science Fact


There are many vital technologies already in the late development phase. Here below are some trends of particular relevance to my new novel CHANDELIER.


Personal Decision-makers

We will be increasingly inclined to surrender our decision making to AI technology. Spotify is an example of this with seamless music categories organised for the listener's pleasure and recommended albums based on your current preferences.


Human Robots

Currently, this demand is for specialist requirements such as sex robots. The market for human-like robots will only grow as society becomes more accepting of robot relationships, just as society adapted to gay relationships. As new frontiers of artificial general intelligence (AGI) stretch, it's inevitable human-like robots will demand similar protections for their human rights.


Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

AGI is the point where AI gain the capability to learn like humans. Rather than one specific task, AI will multi-task, but at far greater speeds than a human brain. Once achieved, machines will teach other devices, hastening their development and quickly overtaking the human capacity to evolve.


Nanites

This technology will enable swarms of intelligence rather than a centrally controlled system. Nanotechnology will build quantum-level technology to replicate and adapt, bringing solutions to the environment; curing illnesses; preventing catastrophic weather and exploring planets. It will change the world with the advent of comprehensive 3D technology that will print any carbon-based material from building supplies to food.


Immersive Reality (IR) and Brain-Computer Interfaces 

IR  is a step further from Augmented Reality.This technology injects another reality directly into a humans brain, giving them superhuman capabilities. For example, reading a thousand books in one second! Ultimately, it will provide humans with the power to communicate telepathically.


Mind Upload

Human consciousness has to reside in information. Technology will allow our consciousness to move beyond the biological substratum's constraints to information bits such as the USB stick, allowing the consciousness immortality of sorts, storing the lives of all who pass in a digital virtual world.


A New World

The above technologies will change our world beyond recognition. Cities will be larger and higher, but they will be quieter at ground level as more autonomous electric vehicles and underground rapid mass transit vehicles appear. The skies will be busier as autonomous flying vehicles develop rapidly. Complicated supply chains will disappear as 3D printers come online with the capability to supply anything on request promptly. Cities will be cleaner, environmentally friendlier and less cluttered as marketing is directed to virtual and augmented reality rather than signage. 


Humans will have greater control of what they see, along with a broader choice of subject matter limited only by their imagination. Mind sharing will be commonplace, and humans will better control their internal environment, appearing superhuman with capabilities to change their health, even genes just through thought. 


Given safety challenges are addressed, AI will have the capability to make improved, unbiased and ethical decisions, resulting in a better and safer world. It will allow humans the capacity to detach from the real world and live in virtual machine generated worlds. AI will master the molecular engineering of living and non-living systems; intelligence engineering will gain full telepathy. In time, as AI exponentially evolves beyond human comprehension, they will develop their own virtual Earth, Universe and Multiverse, pursue their politics, institutions and government. In short, they'll build a unique alien race.



Thanks for visiting my blog! I'd value your feedback, including thoughts on good AI science fiction novels to help me complete CHANDELIER in 2021!