"Walking dead" takes on new meaning in veteran science writer Alpert's chilling techno thriller about a lobotomized army of ex-humans controlled through AI implants by Supreme Harmony, a China-based network geared to destroying mankind.
Since attaining "conscious" state, Supreme Harmony has directed its robotlike modules, which eerily imitate the humans they replace, to kill and reprogram Chinese officials. The network has taken control of China's anti-terrorism surveillance system, which includes drones in the form of swarming flies and implanted children. Three Americans converge on the mainland to save the day: Jim Pierce, a former National Security Agency analyst who now designs supersophisticated prosthetic devices (like his own computerized arm) for wounded veterans; his estranged daughter Layla, a prodigious hacker targeted by Chinese security for her work with a Wikileaks-type organization; and fearless Kirsten Chan, a China expert with the NSA who can see thanks to retinal implants Jim helped design. Kirsten, who is in love with Jim, was blinded in a terrorist attack in Nairobi that claimed Jim’s wife and young son. Pierce has the shutdown code to disarm Supreme Harmony—if only he can somehow outsmart the network and survive such threats as a tidal wave that wipes out an entire city. With a succession of cliffhangers, Alpert (Final Theory, 2008, etc.) sustains a high level of excitement. The novel also believably predicts a day when people's conscious thoughts and memories will be captured and preserved forever.
A scary, sophisticated thriller that will give survivalists plenty to think about.