This science fiction thriller left my head spinning with the possibilities of a world on the verge of removing the need for humanity. Filled with twists and new-fashioned sleuthing on a high-stakes kidnapping, the book also addresses important conversations on class structure and governmental oversight. It’s a gripping and inspired read with a surprise finish that slammed a big A-HA in my face.
THE SYNAPSE SEQUENCE
Titan Books, 2018
5 out of 5 Robots
An embattled investigator experimenting with a new neural technology gets offered a kidnapping case. Her goal: find a missing woman using the memories of someone who knew her. A series of dead ends leading to a startling conclusion and consequences that alter the world as they know it.
WHY I LOVED IT
This is a fascinating machine, and I’m reluctant to give too much away. As a basic summary, it allows a person to access the memories of another person in order to relive a specific event. It’s a brilliant method of exploring past events in the narrative, and it’s done well. The author sucked me in by creating a temporary space housed in this experimental technology where one wrong move can destroy a piece of the puzzle. It was great thriller work, forcing me to turn the pages even faster. And, just when you think you’ve figured everything out, it’s all flipped about again.
BOT LABOR VS HUMAN LABOR
The deep scientific conversation revolves around the robots versus humans dilemma. What would happen to a world that’s run by robots? Do they perform functions better than humans, or are we necessary to provide that human perspective on urgent or life-threatening situations? They’re everywhere in this world – at reception desks, guarding buildings, running hospitals, selling goods, and deciding the importance of crimes based on various indicators. Humans don’t seem necessary in this future, which raises an important query – why are we creating a future for humanity where humanity is irrelevant?
A WORLD WITHOUT PURPOSE
We see what would happen to a world without jobs. The majority of people don’t have anything meaningful to do with their lives, living on universal income provided by the government and staying in government housing. It’s enough to get by with nothing extra. Jobs are highly coveted but are only available for people who meet a specific demographic – everything about a person is taken into account by an automated system, giving them certain jobs they’re allowed to apply for. Here, a person’s worth is based solely on how they look, the color of their skin, the people they know and the neighborhood they grew up in. Imagine a society where your childhood didn’t allow you to pursue your dream of becoming literally anything. In this version of the future, universal income paired with a techno-takeover of the job market is a curse, trapping people in poverty with no way out and nothing to do. It’s a fascinating element that shows how much of a person’s worth is tied into what they’re able to offer the world.
THE CLASS DIVIDE
This is a world even more divided than our own. While the poor are given basic income with which to survive, they have now been stripped of all opportunities. The remaining jobs are high-level (doctors, bankers, government officials, etc.) and even those are in high demand. The upper classes are terrified of losing their sense of worth, which has become a sense of entitlement above those who aren’t able to work. It’s a fragile system where everyone is in fear of falling to the bottom of the chain. So much is done in this world to separate the rich and the poor – transportation, private neighborhoods, and algorithms that rate the importance of crimes based on a person’s status. I finished with a very clear picture of what this kind of world would be like, and how similar it is to the path our world is currently on.
Crime, Thriller, Kidnapping, Artificial Intelligence, Experimental Technology, Neuroscience, Governmental Ethics, Class Disparity
WHERE TO BUY
Godfrey, Daniel. The Synapse Sequence. Titan Books, 2018.