Brief Synopsis CONNECTED is a speculative fiction thriller with touches of science and philosophy, which reached No.1 in Amazon UK's Bestseller lists for both Thrillers and Science Fiction within 5 days of release.
Beginning with the funeral of a renowned classical violinist in a sleepy rural hamlet in the Lake District, a former theoretical physicist tries to make sense of his brother's suicide. Across the country, a university student, enjoying the unexpected attentions of an enigmatic seductress, is disturbed when his best friend falls to his death from the thirteenth floor of a neighbouring campus tower block.
As each tries to unravel the mystery behind the apparent suicides, they are drawn into an obsessive search for a computer-generated fractal video sequence, with startling effects on human consciousness, and which might just pave the way for discovery of the ultimate Theory of Everything.
However, they are not the only ones to have seen the potential of this mind-altering video, and soon find themselves in a desperate race against time with gangsters from the shadowy worlds of sex, drugs, cyber-crime, and massively multi-player on-line gaming.
Science Content Although, as the reviews testify, CONNECTED has been enjoyed by many with no background in computer science, Mandelbrot Fractal geometry, string theory, quantum physics or brain science, those with some interest or knowledge in these areas seem to have particularly enjoyed the book. One reason for this appears to be that most of these references are actually based on fact. Of course, some readers have preferred to skim these sections, and claim that this did not detract from the story. Others have appreciated the scientific detail and fidelity, and some have even thanked the author for explaining such things in a way that enabled them to learn something new.
Philosophy, Science and Religion Although CONNECTED is mostly enjoyed as a fast-paced mystery thriller, it is also, to a limited extent, about the inevitable conflict between science and religion. The two main male protagonists happen to be atheist, and some of the dialogue explores the different thoughts and attitudes concerning some of life’s deeper questions. These include the origins of the universe, the nature of consciousness, and whether there could be life after death. Again these philosophical references to faith and atheism are few, and mostly quite short, but all are crucial to the story.
Setting and slang CONNECTED is a contemporary novel, set entirely in England. As the story unfolds through two converging plot threads, the action switches between a fictitious village in the Lake District, the University of Essex in Colchester (an old Roman town about 60 miles north-east of London), Bracknell (a newer suburban town some 40 miles west of London), and North London. Consequently, there is some British slang and occasional use of bad language (e.g. a few instances of the F-word etc.) in keeping with the age and background of the characters.
Why Connected? Years ago, while the author was at university, a fellow student had a breakdown and was admitted to the local psychiatric hospital. A few, who knew him well, went to visit and reported that he’d subsequently lost the plot and was gabbling incomprehensibly of having found the answer to life, the universe and everything. While most people seemed consumed with sadness and pity at this, the author’s first thought was, “What if he really had discovered some universal truth?” Although never seriously believing that he had, it was on that day that the seed of an idea lodged in his young brain – a seed that years later would germinate into the drafting of the first three chapters of CONNECTED from a cabin in the French Alps. For more details, please visit the author's website.
Born in Eastbourne, UK, Simon Denman graduated from the University of Essex with a degree in Electronic Engineering. From there his career in cutting edge technology swept him across Europe from Paris, Munich, the French Riviera, and back to England. During this period he was blessed with two beautiful and talented daughters, now at University themselves, and, in remarriage, the love of the most wonderful woman for whom a man could wish. Now, following the publication and spectacular success of Connected, his first novel, and the birth of twins, Simon can be found in Cornwall writing full time and working on his much anticipated next novel.
Connected was the best combination of science, adventure, cliffhangers and lust all tied up into a well constructed story that made it very difficult to put down. The characters were so well developed that I felt like I have either worked with or run into a few of them on occasion. The motivations of poor Peter, living his life at 30% and having the chance to see what could have been rings true for so many people. This is a fabulous bit of reading that will leave you thinking long after you close the page and put it on the shelf. I look forward to many more tales from Simon and hope that he will be able to fulfill his 100% potentail!
This is an intelligent, fun, and original story by first-time author Simon Denman. It's well-paced and keeps you engaged while the stakes escalate for the characters. Speaking of characters, through the description and dialogue, you get a clear sense of who they are and want to continue reading to learn more about them and how they will overcome their challenges. They say every first book is in some respects biographical (though in this instance I think we saw two sides of the author, young/old, idealist/realist), and only someone with the author's life experience, and intelligence could write so clearly and in an entertaining manner about some big questions. Bravo! Looking forward to reading more from this new author.
The high ratings for Connected really had my expectations going, but I wasn't quite charmed by it as others who have reviewed it so far.
My first issue is the way the paragraphs are formatted into large chunks of text, sometimes as long as a page, and often without any indentations at the start. The large text blocks made for a cumbersome reading experience, and my attention would end up drifting halfway through the page. Which leads me to my second issue - I guess I would have stayed more focused on the story if I enjoyed the prose, but after the first couple of chapters I realized that the novel "tells" more than it "shows". Some of the writing is quite clever, but for the most part, the writing failed to make me feel truly immersed in the story. The descriptions tend to be superfluous and ineffective at setting the mood. Moments that called for tension or excitement, such as Peter and Doug's first phone conversation, failed to elicit these emotions. Much of the dialogue didn't bring the story forward and seems to exist only to moralize/philosophize. I ended up skipping a lot of it, especially the banter between Doug and Cindy (cringe), and religious debates between Peter and Roger (who pretty much ended up disappearing into the novel), and I didn't feel like I missed out on anything important.
However, I think the biggest weakness of the novel are the characters, who are flatly written and tend to behave like sexist cliches. I'm not a feminist, but I found myself getting annoyed by Doug's two-dimensional machismo and the way the primary female characters only seemed to be written to provide some sort of sexual reward for the male protagonists. Peter was the only character I kind of liked, because he actually had personality, but Connected soon became less like his story and more of Doug's. Also, I get it, Isabelle is French, there's no need to keep driving this point home throughout the novel.
Needless to say, I didn't really enjoy reading this book. But I'm giving this 3 stars because I thought the Dream Zone was a fascinating concept, and is probably the most well-thought out aspect of Connected. I enjoyed reading the parts that expounded on the scientific principles behind it, but disliked having to go through the characters and lengthy prose to get there. There's no doubt that Connected is written by a very well-read and intelligent author, but his inexperience as a writer keeps this book from being the exciting, mind-blowing read I thought it would be.Read more ›
Simon Denman is clearly a very smart man; he knows more than most of will ever know about the brain, about computers, about science in general, and he is clever enough to have come up with an intriguing plot. However, he writes very badly and is also hardly an ace at creating believable characters. All of the characters in this book are two-dimensional paper cut-outs, people who are just hard ot believe. And the sex scenes are SO fake! I ended up speed-reading this book just because I was curious to see how the plot ended but I kept asking myself, "why am I doing this"? To me, good writing is the key to the enjoyment of any book, no matter what the topic. It shouldn't be enough just to put one word in front of the other. So if that's important to you, too, don't waste your time.
There are spoilers in this review, probably too many. But I do not give the book's ending away. Two disclaimers to start with: I got his as a free book and I only made it through the first half of the book. The main idea from what I read is that external stimuli (audio and visual) can excite the brain to higher levels of functioning and maybe a higher consciousness. Improved memory, mastery of skills that were previously underdeveloped, possibly even dreaming the future(?). Not certain about that last one but I am assuming it gets developed more later in the book. The idea is not ground breaking in science fiction but neither is it completely worn out yet, in my opinion.
The first half of the book is binary, oscillating between the two male leads, Peter and Doug. Peter is a middle aged man in mid-life crisis who is rationalizing why he gave up being a research physicist to sellout and become a contract systems engineer and start a family so many years ago. Peter's brother, a world renown chamber violinist, has just committed suicide. So of course Peter, the atheist, spends the first part of the book having conversations about the existence of God, a soul and the afterlife. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, I did not feel that developing that argument contributed to the story in any meaningful way. It was Peter's story but was it "the" story? To be fair, I must admit that in my opinion this is a worn out argument. At least as a dialectical, as it is presented here. I am bored with reading such arguments so this part of the story bored me. Does that make me biased? Yes. If you are not bored by these arguments then you may well enjoy Peter's contribution to the first half of the book. Doug is a college student studying programming. Doug's best friend and co-author on a paper on fractals has just committed suicide. Doug is tall, fit, muscular, handsome and plays second row on the rugby team (whatever that means). Mercifully, Doug only briefly ponders the immortal.
Now what do a man in mid-life crisis whose brother just killed himself and a handsome athletic college student whose best friend just killed himself have in common? Sex. Lots of it. No, not with each other. Get your mind out of that gutter. The first half of the book is overflowing with sexual tension, sexual fantasy and old-fashioned sex. I am not a prude and I realize that sexuality is a part of the human condition and it can be used effectively for character development. This book veers off into gratuitous sexuality. Peter is sexually obsessed with his brother's widow, who just happens to be stunningly beautiful and graceful and warm and understanding. Basically, everything his wife is not. Their every interaction is fraught with sexual tension and he has had sexual fantasies about her since they met. Doug is pursued by a stunningly beautiful, slightly older (he's 21-ish she's 25-ish), wealthy professional woman who drives a Porsche. She is a 14 year old boy's idea of what every college guy's fantasy woman would be. Their interactions are either sexually charged or sex. I do not mind a little gratuitous sex in books or movies but the first half of the book dedicates too much text to it. It stretches the word count without contributing to the story.
What killed the book for me was when Cindy, Doug's love interest, confronted her Russian mobster boss to collect her payment for services rendered. She is in his office. He is at his desk and the bouncer is standing in the office in front of the door. She does one shot of vodka with the mobster and then somehow manages to pour out four more shots while pretending to drink them. And neither the mobster right in front of her nor the bouncer behind her catches on. The mobster's intention was to hold out on paying her to entice her into taking another job with a much larger payoff. She takes advantage of his drinking five shots to hypnotize him and get him to pay up and let her walk out. Sure, up to this point her character had been established as a professional seductress but there has been no mention that she is some Svengali. The entire scene was so unbelievable that it ruined the flow of the story for me.
I admit I would like to know where the technology was going. And, given that I gave up just over half way through, from a return-on-investment point of view I should have just slogged on and finished the book. But I just could not take any more.Read more ›
Born in Eastbourne, to retired parents, Simon Denman grew up alternately on the beaches of a succession of English seaside towns, and in the historic, if somewhat austere boarding school of Christ's Hospital in Horsham, Sussex.
After graduating from the University of Essex with a degree in Electronic Engineering, he has spent longer than he likes to admit in the IT networking, communications, and Internet security industries, gradually moving from technical to marketing and management roles. During this time, he moved from the UK to Paris, back to the UK, over to Munich, across to the French Riviera, and finally back to England.
Far more importantly during this period, he was blessed with two beautiful and talented daughters, now at University themselves, and, in remarriage, the love of the most wonderful woman for whom a man could wish.
Following the publication and unexpected success of his first novel,"Connected" and, in the same year, the births of twins, he has recently moved to Cornwall with his wife and babies, where he is now working on a new novel.
While he no longer plays rugby, Simon is a moderately accomplished player of Jazz and classical trumpet, which he blows enthusiastically with any band or group that'll have him. Any remaining time is spent reading and writing.
For more information, or to make contact, please visit www.simondenman.com
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