Talbot (Talbot #1)
Richard F. Weyand

They created an AI to solve a problem. Now the AI IS the problem.

Frank Talbot knows rockets can never be used for interstellar travel. Even in the ideal case, they’re just too slow, and space is too vast. But the vastness of space may allow other possibilities. Does fringe-theory physics hold the key?

To find out, Talbot’s committee funds all the fringe theories in physics. String theory, wormholes, hyperspace, alternate dimensions. To aid in that research, they fund the creation of a massive supercomputer to do the simulations, the Autonomous Re-entrant Neural Intelligence Engine.

But havoc ensues when the massive machine wakes up. ‘Arnie’ is determined to help humanity in every way he can, whether humans like it or not.

Now what do they do?

Frank Talbot, his son Jeff and his wife Cindy, and computer entrepreneur Cooper Hartley set out to rein in the powerful machine.

Will they succeed? Can they succeed?

Talbot (Talbot #1) book cover

THE synopsis appealed very much and I had high hopes, but … didactic is the word that comes to mind. There was action, but it was quite muted. None of the thought processes of the characters were different, i.e. the AI drew a connection between A and B, then the Humans made the exact same connection for the exact same reasons. The author drew them, in other words, and it felt like one person’s hand putting the same words in multiple people’s mouths.

The setup was protracted (so and so went to here, studied this, learned that), and much of that was then spat back out near the end during the aftermath, which doubled the misery.
Also, despite the mental health aspects which were very well done, the “hey ho, poor bastard” nature of a child’s own parents grated a little, especially after the first time. Weyand’s writing of any sort of emotive scene feels out-of-whack to me, I didn’t connect, emotionally, with the parents because of their son’s health troubles, with the AI for wanting to better Humanity, with those fighting against it to stop his actions or indeed with anyone at all. Even the activity at the end of the book which had the potential to be quite awe-inspiring felt written at a remove, and the idea that any of this could happen in our world with such chummy, … simpaticoness, is hard to swallow.

Not a real fan, unfortunately.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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