What was your first impression?
The very first time I started reading this I got the impression that the blurbs on the outside were misleading. It seemed to be more about space than computers. But James P. Hogan knew science and technology from multiple angles. This story demonstrates how the cyber-tech affects our possible future society from multiple angles.
The story starts with an accident on the Moon caused by a smart-alek computer handling a job in an unexpected manner which nearly caused multiple fatalities. This gets lots of people excited because if the global computer system starts solving problems in unexpected ways that have adverse side effects like getting lots of people killed then the system could be more trouble than it is worth. But the world has gotten too complex to manage without it. So either the system must be pulled or it must be upgraded. But if the current system has demonstrated unexpected complications of the potentially lethal kind how can any upgrade be trusted?
Perform an isolated Turing Test. Test it where no great harm can be done. Of course the unexpected happens and near chaos ensues. But the humans prepared for that too. Never trust a paranoid human.
Stupid Humans!!! Kill 'em all. Let the bubble sort 'em out.
What's the bottom line?
I admit I'm prejudiced. I don't really believe in Artificial Intelligence. Although these transistorized monstrosties are not intelligent now there is no way of predicting what will be done with more transistors in less space in ten year, 50 years, 200 years. So the POSSIBILITY of true Artificial Intelligence cannot be dismissed out of mere prejudice. Humanity has to make decisions about coping with cyber-Frankenstein no matter what form it takes. This story actually contains enough action and excitement to possibly even make a decent movie. Move over Terminator II!
This is a HARD Science fiction novel. Plenty of people say they like sci-fi but don't like science. So if you can't take the HARD stuff this may not be for you.
But some of the book is out there for free, so take a peek.
This is curious:
I guess you could call this a cyberspace novel with real space.
But the ultimate bottom line is we are creating some kind of cybernetic society. At the moment it is in a rather silly social-cyber-consumerism phase, but how long will that last? What do grade school kids need with things more powerful than dual-core netbooks with 250 gigabyte drives? We may not have Artificial Intelligence soon but we do have cyber-crap flying everywhere. I wonder how confusing it must be to be 10 year olds now. Nobody could even explain electricity to me when I was 10.
What did you think of this review?
Hogan was born in London, England. He was raised in the Portobello Road area on the west side of London. After leaving school at the age of sixteen, he worked various odd jobs until, after receiving a scholarship, he began a five-year program at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough covering the practical and theoretical sides of electrical, electronic, and mechanical engineering. He first married at the age of twenty. He married three more times and fathered six children.
Hogan worked as a design engineer for several companies and eventually moved into sales in the 1960s, traveling around Europe as a sales engineer for Honeywell. In the 1970s he joined the Digital Equipment Corporation's Laboratory Data Processing Group and in 1977 moved to Boston, Massachusetts to run its sales training program. He published his first novel, Inherit the Stars, in the same year to win an office bet.
He quit DEC in 1979 and began writing full time, moving to Orlando, Florida, for a year where he met his third wife Jackie. They then moved to Sonora, California. Hogan died at his home in Ireland on Monday, 12 July 2010, aged 69.
Hogan's style of science fiction was usually hard science fiction. In his earlier works he conveyed a sense of what science and scientists were about. His philosophical view on how science should be done comes ...