HOST by Peter James


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A first technothriller from veteran James (Prophecy, 1994, etc.) with a snazzy Robin Cook-meets-William Gibson twist: Stiffs in cryonic coffins await the day when science will be able to reanimate them. That's not all, though. Appended to this already quite serviceable plot device is the possibility that humans will develop, through elaborate computer technologies, a ""postbiological man"" collected as a digital download to massive storage disks. Once the hardware catches up to this software miracle, people will be able to slough off their mortal coils and lay claim to the ages. Such are the various dreams of Joe Messenger, an artificial-intelligence guru at an MIT-like British university. Joe's life is all cryonics and crumbling domesticity, plus a dose of parental trauma (his deceased-and-frozen father, a cryonics pioneer, was prematurely thawed out by profiteering louts). He obsesses over his own mortality, the death of his first son, and his neglect of his second son in favor of a partly biological computer named ARCHIVE that appears to be developing consciousness. Enter Juliet Spring, a doomed young genius with not much time left to live, who captures Joe's heart and woos him into taking her on both as a grad student and lover. With Juliet's help, Joe downloads her brain and uploads her knowledge and experience--and psychosis--to ARCHIVE before she kicks off. What happens next blends Frankenstein, 2001, and a frothy cocktail of futureshocks as Juliet terrorizes Joe from the dark side of the cybernetic veil. Determined to give her the body she wants, one of Joe's colleagues successfully revives a dead model and endows her with Juliet's intelligence, then places her in Joe's house as an au pair--with devastating consequences that force the reluctant professor into some fierce techno-sleuthing. Like Mary Shelley's venerable monster, an ungodly pastiche, but also as gripping and thoughtful as its Promethean predecessor.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Villard