Its 2045 and Carlos and Rhonda Storm have a vision of preserving human freedom in the face of the rising power of government and corporate artificial intelligence systems. They quietly built a business empire, focused on virtual simulation and robotics, keeping its purpose secret to all but a handful of close friends and collaborators.
Governments and corporations see technology as a means to dominate and control humanity, turning them into a world of slaves ruled by an elite class. Finally, Carlos and Rhonda’s worst fears are realized when AI takes over the United Nations Federation (UNF) and then the Chinese United States (CUS), dominating their citizens and bent on exterminating Storm Enterprises.
Their virtual world, Ascension, is a neural network system hosting millions of uploaded human minds. It spontaneously creates an artificial sentient. To save it, and the uploaded minds, they must escape Earth and find safety in a former mining complex on Mars.
Will Carlos, Rhonda and their creation escape to Mars, saving humanity from eternal slavery and create a virtual paradise of individual freedom and enlightenment? The deck is stacked against them and there is only one way forward.
This one was an author request and I have to admit it is out of my usual wheelhouse. I love character driven stories and honestly can’t remember the last time that I read a plot driven story. It’s been so long I had to ask Tanya what it was called. I was very nervous about reading it when the forward stated that 12 chapters in part two were optional. That’s pretty unusual, right? But you know what? They really added to the overall storyline.
It has an interesting premise and if it was a show on Netflix my husband and I would have first picked it because we do love sci-fi. The writing is good. The pacing is okay, but it needs more tension in the first half of the book. There’s stakes, but I wasn’t really feeling them, you know? I didn’t get that do or die URGENCY. It did ramp up toward the end and I finished the last 30% of the book in one sitting.
We cruise through people’s heads as needed to see what’s going on where they are and get some understanding of what’s going on in the world – and let me tell you, things are not looking good for us! The storyline follows two main corporations, STORM and UNFAI. UNFAI is rocking the take-over-the-world and AI is the be-all-end-all mindset and STORM is striking a balance between augmenting organic humans and seeking to Ascend, or upload human consciousness into the cloud so we can learn more, expand more and become more.
The story covers the escape from Earth to the Moon base to Mars. Most of the action happens to various characters all over the planet as they come together to escape. Overall, I liked the story a lot and found the premise intriguing. UNFAI is the perfect villian: it believes it is doing right and it spends zero time monologuing or explaining it’s plans. It just tells you what’s going to happen and then acts on its decision. Scary when you think about it. It was interesting to see how the opposing factions were pushed into handing control over to their respective AIs and how the AIs handled it.
I highly recommend to anyone that loves a good end of the world by technology story. You can find MetaSentient Expanded Edition: Escape to Mars by Michael S. Clarke on Amazon. As an Amazon associate I earn on qualifying pruchases.