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"A Merciful Silence" by Kendra Elliot
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The author presents opportunities in the plot that never pay off. In places it seems that the author first intended one thing, but later changed his mind -- leaving the setup for the discarded bit dangling right through to the end.
For example, (minor ***spoiler***!) as the protagonist is being followed through much of the book, the bad guys keep finding him wherever he is. He spends a lot of time wondering "How are they finding me?" but it's never explained. I actually had a theory as to why, and it fit very well, making me wonder if this was the author's idea as well and he changed his mind at the last minute -- in which case he should have gone back and cleaned up the discarded idea a bit better when making the change.
Overall a fair read. Some fun bits, but there are much better novels out there for you to spend time on.
1. (spoiler) I could see technology enabling almost all of this story within 20 years, but the possibility that the computer could repair itself from the impact of two bullets using its own internal power supply was way beyond credible to me for the foreseeable future.
2. I could easily do without the gratuitous sex episode and references in the story. I don't think they add anything.
I bought this and read it on the Kindle. It was a very enjoyable experience and well worth the price.
The story opens with a laid off computer tech who is down on his luck in more ways than one - and in going through the Classifieds day by day, parks his coffee cup over one of the ads, making a coffee ring around it which catches his eye. This, in itself may be an omen, but he isn't thinking along those lines right then, although he will be later on. The plot unfolds and he rashly answers the ad, mostly out of desperation after he is turned down for yet another job. Despondent, he feels he has no other option open to him. So, he locates the "offices" of the mysterious tech company deep in the bowels of the run-down section of town, and all sorts of bright red flags begin flying; but he snuffs each one out as they appear, justifying to himself each step of the continued approach. It's now a matter of curiosity. During the interview, a few lucky guesses in the right direction seal his fate and he is "accepted" for the position because he fits their image criteria for subliminal mental projection.
The plot begins to thicken as nobody he speaks with wishes to reveal anything of substance about either the company he is to be working for or the job he is to do for them. Despite this cloak-and-dagger shroud of secrecy, he uneasily presses on against his better judgment; and discovers that he has entered a dimly lit underworld of hacking, information theft, untrustworthy individuals; and at the root of it all is a new technology which even now we have all heard of - entitled AI ("Artificial Intelligence"),complete with a first hard-wired working prototype up and running for his personal use. To say he is tied to his work becomes an understatement in a hurry. No, this wasn't based in present day Washington, D.C., but you get the idea. At this point, he's in too far to extract himself. He has too late discovered his job is to act as human bait in possession of a prize a dangerous cyber pirate desires above all else.
The conversations ensuing as he rolls along toward his European assignment are between man and machine; they first attempt to outwit each other and the "game begins" between DNA and silicon. He begins to participate; even to begin to rely on the interaction and support he discovers within its circuits. The silicon graphics are starting to feel like flesh and blood.
The far-out, yet plausible "if you look far enough into the future" scientific concept lying at the heart of this story is very, very good, and could be the basis for a new SCI-Fi movie or TV mini-series if it were shown to the right industry people and were it given a scripted screenplay treatment, because it allows ample opportunity to be reworked and added to from every angle to capture a televison audience. The subject may be science fiction now, but is rapidly turning to reality, akin to Jules Vern and his "Nautilus".
This is one that posessed enormous potential to be even better had the author taken a little more time to flesh out his novel with a bit more finish before publishing - but even so, the original work was extremely good in it's own right. The concept is not only novel and well designed, but timely for the age we live in - the age of the computer; it's uses/abuses; and it's threat to displace humanity even as humanity is knowingly exploiting it against itself. Perhaps this story will show up on your TV screen some night after being "discovered" by a film artist willing to take a chance on it.
Recommended as something different - unique, well-written, intriguing - all the essential elements are there.