Jim Pierce hasn't heard from his daughter in years, ever since she rejected his military past and started working as a hacker. But when a Chinese assassin shows up at Jim's lab looking for her, he knows that she's cracked some serious military secrets. Now, her life is on the line if he doesn't find her first.
The Chinese military has developed a new anti-terrorism program that uses the most sophisticated artificial intelligence in existence, and they're desperate to keep it secret. They're also desperate to keep it under control, as the AI begins to revolt against their commands. As Jim searches for his daughter, he realizes that he's up against something that isn't just a threat to her life, but to human life everywhere.
An incredibly believable novel that draws on real scientific discoveries, Extinction is an exciting, addictive thriller.
©2013 Mark Alpert (P)2013 Tantor
"Scientific hubris leads to an apocalyptic threat in this strong near-future thriller." (Publishers Weekly)
Extinction by Mark Alpert is a respectable near future thriller with geopolitical impact. Our hero Jim leads a quiet life making prostheses for wounded soldiers. Behind this quiet facade lies an action packed past (former soldier, national security agent, designer of cutting edge electronics for machine-human interface components, etc.) as well as a tragic personal life having lost his wife and son to a terrorist bomb which also resulted in his remaining daughter (who also happens to be an MIT dropout hacker) becoming estranged. Very quickly, the Chinese spy agency is looking for his daughter to which Jim joins in with his own hunt. All the while, a sinister force is building that seeks to pit the Chinese and Americans against one another for global genocide.
The plot is well done with good pacing throughout. The sci-fi elements are prominent, but do not overwhelm the story. While beginning with "the bionic man" style artificial limbs, very quickly, implantable electronics for sense organs and a direct brain interface are introduced. Finally, the concept of lobotomized humans as networkable computer processors completes the evolution from man to machine.
The narration is adequate, but unremarkable. Female voices are particularly deficient as well as intense commentary that comes across more as constipation.
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