THE AFFINITIES by Robert Charles Wilson
Kirkus Star

THE AFFINITIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Social science fiction from the author of Burning Paradise (2013, etc.).

Genius researcher Meir Klein of InterAlia develops reliable methods for sorting clients into social affinity groups. The members of such Affinities enjoy an intuitive, almost telepathic rapport, enabling them to cooperate to better themselves and their Affinities. (Think Facebook “friends” but genuine and extended to all phases of life, with a dab of Isaac Asimov’s psychohistory.) The drawback is that many people qualify for none of the groups, putting them at a huge disadvantage. Graphic design student Adam Fisk’s life is falling apart until he tests into Tau, the largest Affinity. To his astonished gratification he finds that his problems—job, money, family, accommodation—rapidly disappear. In turn he is able to contribute to the needs and desires of his fellow Taus. However, Adam does note a distinct antipathy toward those not of the Affinity, even family members. Then Klein, who has disassociated himself from monopolistic InterAlia, requests Tau’s help in releasing the codes underpinning the testing system. Adam, with Tau bigwig Damian Levay and girlfriend Amanda Mehta, meets secretly with Klein, who’s dying. Klein's further research predicts that current geopolitical instabilities (most notably, dangerous disputes between China and India) will worsen—because of the Affinities’ very existence. Not only that, but the groups will soon come to view each other as rivals. Soon, sure enough, Klein is murdered. But who’s responsible? InterAlia? Or Het, Tau’s powerful, hierarchical rival Affinity? And what did Klein mean when he hinted at the possibility of still other and perhaps vastly superior methods of social engagement and cooperation? All this unfolds as a series of slow epiphanies as Adam understands via his experiences the implications of his journey from bewildered disconnection to unequivocal engagement and back.

An intriguing and seriously innovative attempt to grapple with some of the issues raised by the 21st century’s obsession with social media.

Pub Date: April 21st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3262-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2015




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