Can Synthetic Humans Exist Without Being an Underclass?
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.
The time period of this book is unique; there are all sorts of advanced devices around (including the Synthetics), yet the year is 2015. As you read further, you see that the story deals in an alternate time line, and that it is definitely not “our” 2015. The technology is more advanced, and things have happened that in no way match our world.
The book is written in sections, each from the point of view of one of the main characters. For the most part, each section covers the same few days time period, although each section is not really a retelling of the same story. We find out other background stories, motivations, and quite a few surprises in each section. In the end, not everyone is who we thought they were, and motivations, whether for good or ill, are not exactly what we thought.
The basic premise is that Perion Synthetics is a tech company designing and some say perfecting synthetic humans. The concept, one that is familiar in such books, is that they are designed to live and work alongside human, doing the jobs that human don’t want to do, or too dangerous for them to do. Perion has been working in a closed city of its own making, so much of what they have been doing is not in the public eye. An overriding question within the book is whether humanity is ready for such a thing as synthetic humans.
The press, or the information gatherers of our society, are not painted well in this book. Most of what happens that is bad comes from one of three “Aggregators” (reporters). One has been invited in to put a good face on Perion before they release their products, one essentially breaks in to the city, and the third is a long-term mole that has been a “leak” for quite some time.
The multiple points of view are interesting, but sometimes it becomes difficult to remember what the other characters were doing around the same time, since the author (purposely) does not go back over the same ground. Because of the sections structure, pacing is uneven, where lots of things might be happening at one point, and dragging at another.
There is a lot of private soul-searching by the characters, and that tends to make the story drag somewhat. Also, it almost seems like the author didn’t like how the story was ending, so he revved things up again so he could bring about a better conclusion.
Overall, there are some interesting questions for the reader to answer, and not everything is resolved by the end, though it is NOT a cliffhanger in any way. It also didn’t feel like there is another book in the series coming. It just feels like the author just wants to give the reader something to think about. I don’t know, and nowhere is this mentioned, but it does feel like there are earlier books in the series from some things that were mentioned. This seems like a good stand-alone book, but references to earlier action do abound.
The main reason I didn’t rate the book higher is because of the feeling of slow pace and tacked-on happenings near the end. I was ready for the book to book before the author was. The writing is very good, though, and I think the author has done well. It is an enjoyable read, even with the slow and muddy ending.