Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Kraken Project

by Douglas Preston
352 pgs

In The Kraken Project Douglas Preston brings back Wyman Ford, the ex-CIA agent who has appeared in a handful of other Douglas Preston solo novels. This time around he's asked by the President of the United States to help locate Melissa Shepherd, a young NASA computer programmer who wrote "Dorothy," an AI software program for an unmanned mission to one of Saturn's moons. During a test  run, Dorothy panics and inadvertently causes an explosion, killing several people. Soon after the botched test run both Dorothy and Melissa disappear--Melissa into the mountains of Colorado, and Dorothy into the Internet.

Ford needs to find Melissa and enlist her help in locating Dorothy and shutting her down. No one knows what Dorothy is capable of doing on her own, and he's not the only one looking for the AI program. Others have become aware of her existence and want to use her to their own ends.

The idea of artificial intelligence is not a new one. It gets hauled out by writers of popular media fairly regularly, and so the ethical and moral issues associated with it that Preston weaves into his story are nothing that we haven't seen numerous times. But he does an admirable job of making his story a unique one. The story is a fun one, and while on the surface it sounds outlandish and far fetched, it's written well enough to allow readers to suspend their disbelief and simply enjoy the book.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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