Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend the afternoon with a bunch of local writers, directors, and actors and discuss everything from when a child gets their first tooth to when a child takes their first step. It wasn’t lost on me that almost no one talked about their creative work–what they were writing, what they were directing, etc–which I found strange, because as an author, I’m always looking an excuse to talk about my books. I left the event feeling like I had rediscovered a group of people that I’m a part of but that I don’t spend time with. What really struck me, though, was how everyone there, as creatives, had a voice, and later, I realized, a responsibility.
Perion Synthetics is ambitious, especially when compared with Daniel Verastiqui’s prior novel, Veneer. It covers more characters, complexities, and plot twists, all while maintaining the same sense of humor. Verastiqui has a vivid imagination and a knack for realizing complexities in plot and character. Following the story one character at a time, Perion Synthetics imagines a world where Vinestead International has an oppressive grip on the population through its pervasive (and seemingly unavoidable) technology monopoly. Perion Synthetics is the only company with the resources to challenge Vinestead’s dominance. An aggregator (akin to a reporter) is allowed into Perion City for the first time to witness and report on his findings, and things just get crazy from there. That’s about as far as I can get into the story without major spoilers. Some exposition was cumbersome, while other times characters seemed one-dimensional. Fortunately, this does not occur often and does not detract from a fun read. Perion Synthetics is a fast-paced read and is jam-packed with content. It never dulls, never fails to surprise.
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.