I don’t use the highlight feature on my Kindle very often, and when I do it’s usually for something funny or interesting I want to remember. Sometimes, it’s for a sentence or paragraph I find particularly literary and beautiful and poetic, though that is rare when reading contemporary works. Last night, after a shitty day to end all shitty days, I opened my Kindle to continue reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and stumbled upon the most arrestingly beautiful line I think I’ve ever read.
Perion Synthetics is a book that raises some interesting questions involving synthetic life living alongside “real” life. There is a faint flavor of “I, Robot” in parts of this, but this story definitely goes its own way.
An imaginative page-turner Perion Synthetics is about robots, well really, a possible future world sprinkled with synthetic humans. It is also a story about secrets of a great corporation and the intergenerational change of leadership in a tightly held company. Just as it is a reality in 2014 to take Google autonomous cars without a human touching the controls as it drives from city to city, some of the robots in this book are entirely plausible, and could be logical extensions of stories we read about in today’s news. But then you turn a page and you have crossed into the implausible – these are state of the art augmentations and future synthetic human models. Buck Rogers space travel was equally unbelievable in 1928. Who is to say whether Verastiqui’s story is not the future path taken by research in artificial intelligence and material science when we look backward a hundred years from now? Each of six main characters is introduced in depth. As you read along, a complex multi-dimensional story emerges as you see the plot from each of the different perspectives. I accepted the story from Cameron’s point of view, until I read Cynthia’s and so on. It was like looking through a hexagon windowed display in a museum. The new angles allowed the reader to comprehensively see the complete story. Knowing there is no sequel yet and coming to the end of the story, ordinarily the reader might feel let-down, a bit like post partum blues, but not here. The author has kindly provided the antidote and frosting on the cake, by dishing up a coda for each character so you know what happens to them after the story concludes.