It is the 23rd century. Herb, a young entrepreneur, returns to the isolated planet on which he has illegally been trying to build a city - and finds it destroyed by a swarming nightmare of self-replicating machinery. Worse, the all-seeing Environment Agency has been watching him the entire time. His punishment? A nearly hopeless battle in the farthest reaches of the universe against enemy machines twice as fast, and twice as deadly, as his own - in the company of a disarmingly confident AI who may not be exactly what he claims.
Little does Herb know that this war of machines was set in motion nearly 200 years earlier - by mankind itself. For it was then that a not-quite-chance encounter brought a confused young girl and a nearly omnipotent AI together in one fateful moment that may have changed the course of humanity forever.
©2004 Tony Ballantyne (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Overflowing with provocative ideas, Ballantyne's debut displays enviable mastery of both suspenseful storytelling and technological extrapolation. Mark him as a writer of considerable promise." (Booklist)
If you haven't listened to a book narrated by Simon Vance this is a great opportunity. He is a king among narrators, and you have to hear him at least once.
The novel itself is fairly fast paced thriller that highlights the consequences of human interference in the wider galaxy. Set in a future dystopia where technological singularity has occurred, the cast of characters live under the ever present scrutiny of AI's who's intentions are unknown. The AI's have their own agenda's and humanity has seemingly become their puppets.
My only complaint is that this is the first in a series of novels, and the others are not on Audible. However, the novel is modular and the ending wraps up nicely, so it's not like your facing a cliff hanger.
Wonderful narration, and the writing is good, but the story is really confusing. I didn't even bother to finish. It got off to such a promising start, but quickly became obscure. The characterizations are weak. There are a fair number of protagonists, but who, exactly, are they? If I have to wait until the end to find out, that's too long for me.
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