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The Kraken Project: Wyman Ford, Book 4 | [Douglas Preston]

The Kraken Project: Wyman Ford, Book 4

NASA is building a probe to be splashed down in the Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Saturn’s great moon, Titan. It is one of the most promising habitats for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, but the surface is unpredictable and dangerous, requiring the probe to contain artificial intelligence software. To this end, Melissa Shepherd, a brilliant programmer, has developed "Dorothy", a powerful, self-modifying AI whose true potential is both revolutionary and terrifying. When miscalculations lead to a catastrophe during testing, Dorothy flees into the Internet.
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Publisher's Summary

Wyman Ford is back again in The Kraken Project, the thrilling new novel from New York Times best-selling author Douglas Preston.

NASA is building a probe to be splashed down in the Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Saturn’s great moon, Titan. It is one of the most promising habitats for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, but the surface is unpredictable and dangerous, requiring the probe to contain artificial intelligence software. To this end, Melissa Shepherd, a brilliant programmer, has developed "Dorothy", a powerful, self-modifying AI whose true potential is both revolutionary and terrifying. When miscalculations lead to a catastrophe during testing, Dorothy flees into the Internet.

Former CIA agent Wyman Ford is tapped to track down the rogue AI. As Ford and Shepherd search for Dorothy, they realize that her horrific experiences in the wasteland of the Internet have changed her in ways they can barely imagine. And they’re not the only ones looking for the wayward software: The AI is also being pursued by a pair of Wall Street traders, who want to capture her code and turn her into a high-speed trading bot. Traumatized, angry, and relentlessly hunted, Dorothy has an extraordinary revelation - and devises a plan. As the pursuit of Dorothy converges on a deserted house on the coast of Northern California, Ford must face the ultimate question: Is rescuing Dorothy the right thing? Is the AI bent on saving the world…or on wiping out the cancer that is humankind?

©2014 Splendide Mendax, Inc. (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

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3.8 (186 )
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3.8 (174 )
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  •  
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 05-27-14
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 05-27-14 Member Since 2004

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Kraken Project? Not Really!"

    What happened to the old Douglas Preston who could be relied upon to turn out interesting and compelling novels written for adults? Not that his prior Wyman Ford books were that well-done, but this one really fell apart. In my opinion, his best work is with co-author Lincoln Child.

    This novel starts out with promise--and made me want to read more. It is all about "The Kraken Project" and the great experiment in space with AI- HOWEVER, the remaining 95% of the story has nothing to do with "The Kraken Project." Very misleading title.

    The entire book reads like a very YA story to me, as there is a lot of teenage type interaction between a boy and his robot, and very tame dialogue throughout. Nothing wrong with that--if that is what you are looking for.

    Also, Scott Sower's narration didn't work for this book-- however, I don't think any narrator could really have made it better. The writing is just not very good.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    webtraverser Northern Virginia 06-11-14
    webtraverser Northern Virginia 06-11-14 Member Since 2001

    kevjenn

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    "Computer Professionals Beware"

    There are many issues with this book and while it is not the worst of the his solos novels (that would be Blasphemy) it is right down at the bottom of the barrel.
    (minor spoilers)
    First off, if you work with engineering or developing software your suspension of disbelief is going to have to do some heavy lifting. The AI is pretty much a fanciful creation. He does attempt explain why such an AI is impossible but he can't deliver on how the AI is able to over come these intractable issues to be conscious. Oh, he does give a reason ("one simple trick") but it is super super silly.

    Daemon and Freedom by Daniel Suarez handle the concept much better.

    Second, the antagonists in the story was super weak. In this case, all readers' suspension of disbelief will have to do some heavy lifting. (again spoilers). I found it hard to believe that the Wall Street banker was so smart to make a billion dollars but also so stupid to kill people he had meet and other people new he had met. They left so much evidence behind it was just absurd. This is just an example of some week writing. It would be much more interesting for the bad guys to figure out ways of killing people that would draw less attention to themselves. Plotting is import.

    I like Wyman but it seams with each book we get less of him. He wasn't necessary for this story at all. He seemed like a tourist.

    Preston attempted to give the other characters some depth but I never bought it. Most of his characters were pretty unlikable or annoying or worse just plain boring.

    I did like seeing Tom Broadbent back again. Also I thought reader was pretty good. And thankfully it was short; speed listened to it a day.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Miami, FL USA 05-27-14
    Amazon Customer Miami, FL USA 05-27-14 Member Since 2001
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    "Ridiculous"
    Would you try another book from Douglas Preston and/or Scott Sowers?

    I'm giving this a star because the premise - the first chapter - was excellent. The remainder is just silly;. I have read several books by Preston, but this is the last.


    What was most disappointing about Douglas Preston’s story?

    The AI, "Dorothy", was totally unbelievable: the "Plan X from Outer Space" of computer intelligence stories. . When I read a story, I don't mind stretching to accept some questionable premises, but I cannot totally suspend logic. Superman, Spider-Man , and the Hulk were all far more believable than Dorothy.


    What does Scott Sowers bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    If I had read the book instead of listened to it, I would have imagined a ten-year-old author and narrator. Scott did a en excellent job, not giggling even once.


    What character would you cut from The Kraken Project?

    Dorothy.


    Any additional comments?

    Important supporting characters were poorly developed; plot twists were too predictable, actions and reactions unrealistic.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Charlotte, NC, USA 05-24-14
    Andy Charlotte, NC, USA 05-24-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Kraken is not crackin' good"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes. I would not read it. Preston fans are going to like it regardless, but honestly this is not a very good book. I felt like I had mistakenly picked a YA novel to read. Wyman Ford is little more than a cardboard character, something that Preston and Child seem to have also done in "White Fire" with Pendergast recently. Good fiction of this genre pushes credulity but does not break it. "Kraken" crushes credulity with an unbelievable 2 gigabyte automaton who seems magically able to move its code around at will. And her pet code-dog. If you want to read a well-done code intelligence gone awry novel, read Daniel Suarez's "Daemon" and its sequel "Freedom."


    Would you ever listen to anything by Douglas Preston again?

    Probably not.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Scott Sowers?

    Possibly. When his reading becomes animated, he is entertaining, and his voice has a raspy quality that makes it interesting. This reading suggests that Sowers might have studied at the Scott Brick School of Awkward Pauses.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    It won't be a movie. If it were, I would defer to Sharknado 3.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Cle Elum, WA, USA 05-30-14
    Brad Cle Elum, WA, USA 05-30-14 Member Since 2002
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    "Unfortunate disappointment"
    What disappointed you about The Kraken Project?

    The pretense of the book was interesting and I was eagerly awaiting the arrival. Then it came, I have listened to many Preston books, some good, some great, never bad... until now. The first part was confusing, later it became childish, the chase scene was ineffectual and boring. The narrator's voices were bland and irritating at times. The concept was good, the delivery bad. I forced myself to listen to the end and while it set a good stage for a sequel, it was about the only good I found.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Douglas Preston again?

    Only in hopes of proving this to be simply a mistake.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Scott Sowers?

    Pretty much anyone


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Extreme disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    Hoping for better...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Howard Oregon 05-30-14
    Kelly Howard Oregon 05-30-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Dorothy needs to be sucked up by a tornado"

    I've read a bunch of DP's books, both solo & with L Childs, but this is definitely not one of the winners. I agree with a number of reviewers who said it seems like a YA novel, at least in many parts. None of the characters (including Dorothy, and her little dog [?!] too) seemed particularly believable, & the kiss request was just idiotic & creepy. I found the kid so incredibly obnoxious that I kept fervently hoping he'd get killed off; yes, I know teenagers can be a trial, and he did have tough things to deal with (like the foot thing*), but it is possible to write a problematic character without having him be so loathsome that the reader prays for his death. Of course, the fact that his parents were also utterly intolerable caused me to cut him a teeny bit of slack, but they were another problem. I must say, Preston has a knack for creating characters which I absolutely cannot stand; some of the jerks in this book make me think that he's responsible for certain characters in the books he wrote with Childs...the reporter Smithback in many of the Pendergast books springs to mind...the kid in this one could be his clone in obnoxiousness.

    Preston showed a serious lack of imagination with having two different characters bring somebody out of hiding with the exact same trick-- pretending to abuse something the target cared about. I kept waiting for Ford to mention that he'd learned the trick from the first instance, but it was presented like "what a great idea!" --twice.

    Overall, the plot was beyond my ability to suspend disbelief. Could a computer program really hide the way Dorothy did at the end? Perhaps I just don't understand the physics of computing well enough, but I didn't buy it, along with quite a few other things. The dialogue was rather doubtful at times, also.

    Sowers did a decent job with what he had to work with. At least he didn't do what the guy who read the Dresden Files did on the first book, which was give vent to these humongous sighs at intervals, like reading the book was the worst thing he'd ever had to trudge through (he either got more interested as the books went along, or learned to suffer in silence).

    *granted, I know nothing about surfing, but I had real problems with him never being able to surf again because one leg was shorter than the other. What a weenie! People surf without arms, with 1 1/2 legs, with no legs... there's a picture of a guy without arms OR legs riding a board with a girl with one arm, fa cryin' out loud! Okay, they're not shooting the pipe (or whatever it's called) on a monster 40 foot wave, but sheesh!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janie CAIRNS, Australia 07-21-14
    Janie CAIRNS, Australia 07-21-14 Member Since 2009

    I am an artist, living in Cairns, Queensland, Australia right next to the Great Barrier Reef. I listen to audiobooks everyday while making art and on into the night. I really like mysteries with a good serving of suspense on the side that keep you wondering right to the end. However, I won't say no to any entertaining and well written book which has been read by an excellent narrator.

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    "Fun Read"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Kraken Project to be better than the print version?

    Wouldn't have a clue.....Why would I bother reading it, now I have listened to it?


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Kraken Project?

    When Dorothy becomes Charlie.


    What about Scott Sowers’s performance did you like?

    Excellent performance. Gives all the characters life and their own individual personality.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Definitely a feel good book. At times I felt sad and at other times it made me smile.


    Any additional comments?

    I would re-classify this book as a young readers book, although suitable for all those who are young at heart. Don't expect your usual Douglas Preston in this book, it's a much lighter story than his other works. It does however contain important messages for humanity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teri Simpsonville, Cayman Islands 07-04-14
    Teri Simpsonville, Cayman Islands 07-04-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Story lost for me due to narration issues"
    Would you try another book from Douglas Preston and/or Scott Sowers?

    Preston, yes. Sowers, no.


    What was most disappointing about Douglas Preston’s story?

    I don't know that the story is disappointing--I just didn't especially like the subject matter, and fall outside the target audience for this one.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Sowers seems to drop the flow and breathe in odd places, breaking the rhythm of the prose, changing or distorting its meaning, and making the audience aware of the reader rather than the story. Emotional impact is destroyed when the listener is wondering why there is a stop in the narrator's voice that has nothing to do with the natural flow of a phrase, or when a phrase that ends a sentence, and its sense, appears two beats after the last word spoken, but clearly should have been included in the previous breath. I know Preston's prose is not this broken.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Kraken Project?

    Had I been editor, I would have passed the book to someone who knew more about the subject matter.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Finigan 06-11-14
    Finigan 06-11-14 Member Since 2004
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    "I love Douglas Preston, but this was pretty lame."

    I've read or listened to almost every book that Douglas Preston has written. This definitely was one of the worst. The action was good, but the exploration of strong AI, and it's powers and pitfalls was quite thin. Wyman Ford seems rough and tough in other novels, but here it just felt like he was along for the ride. I still give the story a C+.

    Unfortunately it was butchered by the narrator. Often, when I start a new audio-book, I don't like the narration at first, but then it grows on me. That was not the case with this book. So many annoying, awkward pauses!

    Overall worth the read for Preston/Child fans, but just barely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul United States 06-03-14
    Paul United States 06-03-14 Member Since 2010
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    "A disappointing entry"

    I've typically enjoyed the Wyman Ford series, but The Kraken Project was dull. None of the characters were particularly likable including Wyman Ford who felt like he was just along for the ride.

    Melissa Shepherd the female lead was just annoying and really unlikable. She tried to hard to be tough, but when it came to the AI program she was overly protective and does not make a good female lead to Wyman Ford.

    The AI Dorothy was insufferable. She starts off freaking out and threatening to destroy everything in her path, and as she 'evolves' she becomes very childlike in her interactions. Don't turn me off and throws temper-tantrums, and tries to become a benevolent overlord as the book goes on.

    Jacob.. What can I say other than he's useless and the story would be better without him. He really doesn't have any redeeming qualities. From the time we meet him he's just feeling sorry for himself and his parents don't seem to care because of the 'accident' I don't know why he's in the story, he doesn't really serve a purpose except as a plot coupon, but not a very good one.

    Wyman Ford is the main protagonist, but he feels out of place and almost gets led around by Dorothy and Ms. Shepherd. I won't say it's character assassination, but he just didn't do as much in this book as he's done in the past.

    The story has some good hooks, but I just couldn't get excited about them. The antagonists want to use Dorothy for some nefarious reasons which aren't all that interesting. They go through all this to get her copied over and it just sputters out without any meaningful impact. Rogue AI goes crazy and people try to get their hands on her, and be evil. It's not that original, but even with the hooks in the story this didn't work. I'd like to see more Wyman Ford, but not in situations like this.

    Scott Sowers wasn't the best in this story. He usually does a pretty good job with Wyman, but this time around he was unable to make the story engaging. Source material or direction, I don't know, but this was disappointing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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