Monday, September 10, 2012

AMPED by Daniel H. Wilson (@DanielWilsonpdx) - Review by Author Ryan Schneider

A well-written, scary look at our inevitable technological future. A solid read. After enjoying ROBOPOCALYPSE, I was pleased to find AMPED in my library's ebook inventory. AMPED wasn't quite as epic in scope as ROBO, but Wilson uses his insights into robotics and technology to predict what I truly feel is a technological inevitability. Technology which already exists TODAY need be tweaked only slightly in order to be realized as the vision painted by Wilson in AMPED. And it's a controversial one.

Specifically (and without giving anything away!), the story revolves around neurological implants used to treat maladies such as epilepsy and Parkinson's. As I said, the technology exists and is in use today. Now, imagine such an implant which could generate a mild, steady electronic pulse which would nudge your brain waves into a constant state of concentration. As Wilson states in the novel (and I'm paraphrasing), such technology will make a dumb person normal and a normal person a genius.

The real-world applications of such technology become readily apparent. As does its attractiveness.

And also the moral quandary. (Which Wilson explores thoroughly.)

If I had to choose something to complain about, it would be that the book felt a tad bit limited in terms of the interaction between the hero and the antagonist. I kept thinking of the redneck in REAL STEEL who beats the crap out of Hugh Jackman.

But the book does indeed have several nice surprises (which I won't spoil here). There's an ample love interest and a nice portrayal of paternal action by the hero; important stuff which is always challenging to write without it being corny or melodramatic.

Of particular note is Wilson's almost lyrical voice. He savors his words and his metaphors are brilliant. And of course the sheer concept of the novel is fascinating and utterly believable. The execution is also fun, as the book incorporates news reports, government documents, court rulings, and journalistic reports to assist with the storytelling. This was a brilliant, inventive way to take a break from what could easily become long-winded exposition.


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