Books 7/31

Joel Shepherd is the author of series of books I’m beginning concerning the life and doings of one Cassandra Kresnov, highly advanced hunter/killer robot/ai/femme-fatale. Struck me in many ways as an updated and interesting take on “I, Robot”, Asimov (1950), and “Ghost in the Shell”, Shirow (1991). What I mean by those references is that the central point of the philosophical aspect of the novel is, “What does it mean to be alive/human if one is a synthetic creation?”

It is a story line that has been done before, so why read it again? The world Shepherd has created is a believable mix of the powerful technological and cultural forces of today projected out into the distant future. The cultures he has chosen are based on contemporary asian cultures; India, Hong Kong, Singapore et cetera, hey he is Australian so it is his patch. Interesting to me because, Shepherd does not presume the Europe/USA alone lead the way into space, not that these people and cultures aren’t present but Shepherd chooses to emphasize different cultures and their possibilities at the center of his story. The information technology is understandable, Shepherd doesn’t use alot of jargon, and spends much time discussing various human computer interfaces, human cybernetic augmentation, and interesting concepts of how information can be used, over-used, and manipulated to create a society completely dependent on information collected via hardwired and wireless networks for social control, inevitable abuse and greedy exploitation ensues of course but, in interesting ways.

So that’s world in which the encounter with Cassandra Kresnov is set. She is uber-alles: she is physically superior than anyone else, she is a walking supercomputer, and she has the emotional developement of an early teen. So we also have a simple growing up, or starting to at least, story at the heart of this book. It is easy to like Kresnov as Shepherd has portrayed her, some-one looking for a new and better life. I’m trying not give much away here because the book is really alabout Kresnov and her journey. If you liked the above mentioned books then, I say this might be of interest. There are two books so far stateside: “Crossover”, this review concerns this novel, and “Breakway”, which I just started and has a breathless start.

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