Monday, October 5, 2020

Review: Neurogarden

 


Book Overview

Where can you run when there is no place to hide?


Brenna Patrick is a brilliant technologist specializing in neural-cognitive functions and AI. She has cracked the code to solve one of the most troublesome problems in the field, and turned that into the multi-billion dollar NeuralTech Corporation.


Working quietly with the U.S. Department of Defense, NeuralTech is poised to leapfrog the competition with a revolutionary system for tracking people, starting with the world’s most wanted terrorists. But there are only so many terrorists in the world, so who’s next?


When a pair of Columbia graduate students, Jenny and Leo, stumble on the dark secret of NeuralTech’s success, it kicks off a tense game of cat and mouse. As they fight to defeat the powerful forces arrayed against them, nothing less than the fate of humanity hangs in the balance…


NEUROGARDEN is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller, one that will have readers pondering the nature of memory, and of reality, long after they've read the last page.




Author  Bio and Links:


Ever since reading Douglas Adams back in my formative years, I have had an interesting relationship with humor, science fiction, and technology. My first computer was a TI-99/4A, so yeah, I’m old, but only until scientists have cracked the code on transplanting our brains into shiny new vessels.


My body may be showing signs of wear, but I’m keeping my brain tight.


When I am not dreaming of far off worlds and writing, I am living a semi-normal life working in New York City, and watching movies with my wife and her spastic cat, Moss.


Web site  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter  Amazon  




In Conversation with Bryon Vaughn


What are you passionate about these days?

Aside from my current obsession with writing, I am working on finishing up my masters degree at Columbia in strategic communication and that has become my new passion. I have an unnatural affinity for data analytics, finding patterns and telling stories with information. When I find a hidden nugget of insight in a 20MB dataset that nobody else has noticed it is intoxicating. Like I said above, nerd.

If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have gone straight to self-publishing early on. As a data researcher, I looked at all the numbers and despite the strong case for taking the indie route, I held on to the traditional publishing model as the best approach. In my early years, it was difficult to break through using traditional methods, and honestly pushed me away from doing what I loved. Now that I am in a place where I have gotten my groove back, I’m confident that my work will find its audience, and if not then that’s on me.

Ebook or print? And why?

I love a printed book. I have many bookshelves in my apartment, and despite the fact that all of my books fill over 30 boxes every time we move to another apartment, there is no way I’m leaving them behind. That said, I will release my books in whatever format people want to buy. The feel of a book in my hand is satisfying in a fetishistic way, but the words are what matters, so to each their own. But give me something I can stick on a shelf and show off to my friends any day.

What is your favorite scene in this book?

I don’t want to give away too much, but my favorite scene is one between the heroine, Jenny, and the antagonist, Brenna. It takes place in the mind of Brenna, and folds in on itself with an earlier event that makes it an interesting look into reality and memory, and the blurry line between awareness and the sub-conscious. We get to know these two characters in a way that is nearly impossible in the context of our own traditional perception. All that, and it’s hot.



Review

Neurogarden, Bryon Vaughn’s imaginative debut novel, delves into the possible future of AI technology. The theme is a familiar one: 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 powerful and accurate facial recognition system. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted the collaborative funding of the Department of Defense, but there are illegal company secrets being withheld from the public.


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 narcissistic 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 interesting and imaginative journey. It took some time to reach the action as it introduced character back stories, at times 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





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