Killip (Genie and Other Weird Tales, 2016) offers a sci-fi novel about a journey through uncharted technology.
After helping to found Lazarus, a company focused on “brain emulation technology,” British scientist Hammond Hinkley is on the verge of a discovery. His work with co-founder Addison Royal and others involves a highly sophisticated level of artificial intelligence whose possible applications range from helping the disabled to advancing national security. He admits to readers that his “most secret hope was that one day we would make death obsolete.” As the team’s work progresses, they find themselves under pressure to produce a “game-changing breakthrough,” so they decide to upload Hinkley’s consciousness to their supercomputer. The team calls the new mind “Hammond Flux,” which wakes up in a world that’s best described as dreamlike. But as it walks through a simulated London, its feelings and sensations are very real. Meanwhile, back in the real London, the original Hammond goes about his humdrum life. It will be clear to readers from the outset that the two beings will eventually merge into one, and what drives the story forward is showing just how strange and out of control things get before that event occurs; readers will also wonder what the new, combined being will be like. The ambitious yet grounded story explores a dangerous near-future but without delving into dystopian clichés. Hinkley, who has a home in England’s Telegraph Hill and an irksome wife, is an anti-cyberpunk hero if there ever was one. Watching him confront bizarre situations gives the novel an authentic, relatable feel, even when fantastical technologies and events come into play. There are too many scenes of business and committee meetings, in both the real and simulated worlds, which can dull the action. However, readers who are drawn in by the book’s mature treatment of its plausible, extraordinary premise will find a number of plot developments worthwhile.
An often entertaining and timely book that keenly examines the vanishing differences between real and electronic worlds.