Monday, April 15, 2013

Artificial Absolutes Delivers

Mary Fan
Red Adept Publishing
February 2013

Jane Colt is a 20-something office drone in a mega corporation, bored and discontented. What she really wants is a musical career but as her father happens to be the powerful head of the corporation, she tries to be what dear old dad wants. It seems that her entire life and that of her brother, Devin, has been about trying to live up to the expectations of controlling parents. Devin seems to be succeeding, having risen in the corporation and becoming engaged to beautiful Sarah DeHaven. Both of their somewhat routine lives change when Jane witnesses the kidnapping of her friend/boyfriend, Adam, and Devin discovers that his beloved Sarah is not at all what she appears to be. What follows is an exhilarating ride through space into the worlds of net terrorism, Artificial Intelligence and a shadowy villain trying to subvert the future of humanity.

I have never been a big fan of sci-fi, finding much of my admittedly limited reading of the genre long on science and short on character development. Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga is a notable exception and so is Artificial Absolutes. Debut author Mary Fan succeeds brilliantly in drawing vivid characters. Jane is sarcastic, a little spoiled and reckless, but absolutely loyal to her brother and to Adam. She will do whatever it takes to get them all home safely. Devin is tortured with guilt over his dark past; a past of which Jane is not fully aware.  The brother and sister team are formidable and reclaim the closeness of their childhoods, lost in recent years. The supporting characters are equally well drawn, from the mad programming genius, Kron, to the pair's equally gifted sidekick Riley.

There is a lot going on in Artificial Absolutes; the ethical considerations surrounding AI, the importance of religion in a technologically advanced society and what can happen when that society becomes too dependent on technology. However, I read the novel more for the adventure and because I really wanted to know what would happen next. I found the pacing a little rocky and the ending somewhat rushed, but otherwise Artificial Absolutes delivered a "cracking good read".

Mary Fan is definitely a writer to watch. Thanks to Red Adept Publishing for a digital review copy.

RATING- 4 Stars

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