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Shadow Resistance

Shadow Resistance by [Cyprian, B.J.]

Dom is a computer engineering genius in her own right. Rose’s instincts when it comes to human behavior are fine-tuned. Layla has the gift of an incredible memory. All three women are true forces with which to be reckoned and phenomenally good at their jobs. When Dom, a virtual recluse, is approached for help in solving a violent death, the lives of the three women quickly become entangled. Dom, Rose, and Layla reiterate that we are all one quick internet search away from an interaction we may or may not want.

B.J. Cyprian, author of Shadow Resistance, has created a world effortlessly blends fantasy and realistic fiction. With the elements of advanced artificial intelligence looming large in Dom’s storyline, readers are treated to science fiction laced with humor and heavily layered with relevant current events. While I’m not a fan of most historical fiction novels, I more than appreciate the references Cyprian includes in her characters’ story lines. Especially effective is the way in which the author works in the black and white doll experiment into Rose’s subplot. Cyprian knows how to hit readers where it matters. This is just one of the aspects of her writing that helps make her book so worthy of praise.

The entire scenario involving SARA is quite amazing. I don’t want to call SARA a character as it were, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention how incredibly fascinating her contribution to the book actually is. At times, Dom almost plays second string to the artificial intelligence she herself created. The back-and-forth between the two is entertaining to say the least and simultaneously frightening. To think that SARA is Dom’s only connection with the outside world is, in many ways, sad. In introducing Dom as somewhat of a hermit, Cyprian has given a certain richness to Dom’s story line and made her views of injustice all the more fiery.

Cyprian does a beautiful job of weaving history into every aspect of her plot. Page after page, she seamlessly meshes mentions of countless historical figures into the dialogue between characters. From impromptu history lessons given by Rose to the background revealed by Rose and Robert’s visit to Larry’s apartment, the book feels less like a lesson in history than a conversation on the front stoop of an elderly neighbor.

This unique work of fiction is a must read for anyone seeking technologically-based crime dramas. In addition, Cyprian’s work holds a special appeal for those who appreciate historical accuracies and current events woven throughout their fiction. The more I read, the more I found Shadow Resistance qualifies as a mystery. It’s impossible to fit Cyprian’s work into one slot–and I’m not sure I want to. It deserves a category of its own. Kudos to Cyprian on an outstanding first novel.

PagesL 648 | ASIN: B07NQKYGVP

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Interflow of Things

Interflow of Things by [Dröge, Dave]

The year is 2050 and the overreaching A.I. is about to achieve total domination of the planet. If it succeeds, the end of humanity is certain. No resistance is expected since the human race has been herded into obedience and a false sense of security using high tech illusions and complacency. But the resistance is brewing – the Free Hackers are moving in the shadows, avoiding the scanners, blending with the crowd. They will cross the world, from Rotterdam to Sicily and all the way to California, in hopes of stopping the inevitable.

Interflow of Things by David Droge is a highly realistic vision of the future brought about by the constant revolutions in computing we have been witnessing in the past few decades. His A.I. starts its journey in our time but quickly spreads to control the world from the shadows. Its insatiable hunger for processing power has it manipulating governments and even change entire stratas of society. It uses high tech gadgetry to mask its debilitating effect on the planet. I enjoyed the superbly technical implementation of the technology which was always believable, especially when we remember how human totalitarian regimes have been able to accomplish the same effect without it.

Human emotions are the bedrock of its power – living in the A.I. controlled reality is comfortable. So much so that unplugging from it requires drug treatments and therapy. Julia, the first character we meet, needed extensive therapy provided by the Free Hackers before she got her emotions and clarity of mind back. And she was one of the lucky ones. Augmented reality dream is a prison of your own mind and you carry it everywhere. Why wouldn’t you? It makes everything, vision, smell, feel and touch, more beautiful! Droge is able to touch and develop every detail of the story so that you are completely immersed by the time you are just a few chapters in.

But the human emotion is something the A.I. doesn’t understand. Throughout the book we get inklings into the operation of this vast mind. Millions of calculations are being done in hopes of understanding basic human concepts and abilities, all in vain.

These passages serve the purpose of giving us the idea of the incomprehensible A.I.’s motivations. They turn out to be one of the few passages of the book that make sense. Dave Droge has translated this novel into English and the results could have been better. A layered and interesting world of the future was hard for me to comprehend. His human characters are intriguing but their motivation was obscured by poor translation.

Interflow of Things – the name of the novel is an obvious, ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” trend in computing integrated with ordinary business of living. It shows the future that we might be heading in. Droge gives us a warning that we might become willing slaves of computer controlled social constructs that we don’t really understand or care to understand. If the object of our desires is a real person or an android, will we know? Will we even care at that point? This is a fantastic science fiction story that can only get better.

Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07BTT6KRK

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The Fugitive’s Trail

In the lobby of a prestigious Wall Street investment firm, one man is dead and another seriously injured. The man accused of the crime now a fugitive.

When the Director of the FBI personally orders Special Agent Sean Kruger to New York City to find the fugitive, Kruger questions the reason. Told to shut up and do his job, he starts looking into the case. What he finds is troubling. Eye-witness accounts seem contrived with little variance between individual testimonies. The more he hears, the more he feels someone is manipulating the story.

As the investigation unfolds, he discovers the only information known about the fugitive is a HR file from a former employer. Public records of the man do not exist.

The fugitive is a ghost. A ghost who has disappeared.

When Kruger unearths information the investment firm lied about the incident in the lobby, he learns there is a possibility the fugitive was defending himself. He also discovers another individual is searching for the fugitive. An individual who has no interest in allowing the truth to be discovered.

When the cat and mouse game turns lethal, Kruger must use all of his skills and experience to find the truth, protect the fugitive, and ultimately stay alive.

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Data Pilots

Data Pilots by [Wall, W.H.]4 Stars

Data Pilots takes the classic “secret level” lore from video games – finding the secret level grants the player an elite, secret status – and uses it to transport the hero, Tom Howard, into a world where his brain is seamlessly integrated into an exclusive development playground. Neuralverse is an open-source database environment set aside for a few privileged thinkers where literally anything they can think of is rendered in immersive virtual reality.

Tom is something of a prodigy. He’s able to master Neuralverse controls almost immediately, makes a basic UI change and is rewarded with praise from the best data pilots in the system. He also discovers the darker side, full of hackers and profiteers. What he does with his power can either secure or topple this virtual world, and he doesn’t know who to trust.

A lot of this story hearkens back to the early days of the cyberpunk genre, like the integration of computing with the human brain, visualizing computerized data as an immersive experience, even holodecks. The author uses a lot of ideas from the past and blends them all together to build this world. I enjoyed the way that music takes an important role in the story, but can’t say too much – you’ll have to read it to find out. There’s also a neat time dilation in the Neuralverse. Since everything happens at the speed of thought, four hours spent on one project inside is more like four minutes in the real world.

Tom comes across as almost too talented, even for a teen prodigy. Everything is easy for him, and he masters complex skills in a very short time. Most (but not all) obstacles provide more than a moment’s annoyance. His skill earns him great praise from the other data pilots in the system. However, Tom does have humanizing flaws that he must overcome. He has a selective memory and does things like ignoring EULA notices as well as disregarding advice to keep his overworked brain from exhaustion.

My biggest problem with the book is that the author kills any suspense or tension built up during a scene by disclosing the bad guys’ identity and intent. The book is full of, “unbeknownst to Tom…” and “Little did he know…” moments that telegraph a critical plot twist long before it happens. The book needs some editing tweaks. The most common problem is putting dialogue from two or more speakers on the same line, without a paragraph break. In some scenes, it’s difficult to tell exactly who is speaking since it all runs together.

Data Pilots is a fast-paced novel for younger readers, immersing them into a race-against-time climax to unlock memories and data in order to protect a unique, collaborative environment from destruction. I’d suggest this for ages 12-18 because I think teen readers will find a lot to like here, especially if they are also interested in programming and designing virtual worlds.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B01MSI7LL1

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Sprk.It

Review: Under the Amoral Bridge by Gary Ballard

Under the Amoral Bridge (The Bridge Chronicles, #1) 4star

Artemis Bridge is a man with connections. He’s the guy who knows a guy and he sells his connections to those that have a need and the cash. He’s an ex hacker turned legitimate business man (there’s nothing illegal about introducing two people). He operates in the grey market unwilling to get his hands dirty. He thinks fast and talks fast, but when he’s given a damaging video that puts him in the cross hairs of the most powerful men in the city very few of his connections are willing to help him. Bridge must get his hands dirty; doing things he swore never to do again, and in the process he learns who his real friends are, who he really is, and who really runs Los Angeles.

The first thing you’ll notice about Under the Amoral Bridge is the concise and witty language that’s used to develop the character of Artemis Bridge which serves to deliver a clear vision of the characters motivations and world view. The clever writing is not just in narration or internal dialogue, but the banter between characters is some of the more subtly humorous and engaging writing that I’ve read in a while. The novel is fairly short and a quick read, I believe it’s the product of a serialization. If I’m forced to stop praising the succinct writing my only negative comment would be with the ending of the novel which seemed a bit muddled and rushed with the resolution delivered in the last chapter. Which I don’t dislike for any kind of literary principal, it’s just in this case the ‘facts’ were vaguely defined. Even the revelation of the facts were delivered a little too easily making it a little too unbelievable as they were simply told to Bridge by someone that spent the entire novel trying to keep Bridge from finding out too much. But in the end the ending didn’t live up to expectations because the novel succeeded so well in telling an awesome story.

Pages: 170 pages
ISBN: 1449509673

Find out more about the Bridge Chronicles at Tales from the Bridge Chronicles

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