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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Far Beyond Big Brother--Burning Bright

Burning BrightBurning Bright by Nicholas Petrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The prologue of this book is twelve pages long. By the time I finished I knew I liked this girl, June Cassidy. She has grit and intelligence and is an independent competent woman. My kind of girl. Didn't know Peter Ash from Petrie's previous book, the Drifter, but again, as he escaped a bear by climbing a redwood sapling and then encountered June high in the canopy, it was all in for the quest.
Each chapter is written from the perspective of either one or the other of them and, in time, from the perspective of other characters. This is not to say the chapter is narrated by the character but rather that the character's background and action is revealed as the plot develops. It is clever and smooth and keeps widening the story.
Although Peter is suffering from PTSD and gets extremely claustrophobic and panicky when confined, even for a short time and although this condition definitely has an effect on the action, it is not the main theme of the story. The main theme is the development of an algorithm of artificial intelligence which is capable of growing and becoming ever more capable of making decisions and solving problems without any human involvement. Obviously, such a tool is extremely desirable to many entities, government, private entities without a clear description. Its creator is June's mother, who has died in a hit and run and whose home and office have both been cleared out by agents, who have also attempted to kidnap June. So she is on the run and Peter finds her in the redwood canopy after being confronted by a grizzly on a casual hike.
While this plot is engrossing and the pairing of these two in an attempt to sort out who is who and what is what and where is safe, it is the whole concept of such an algorithm that kept me reading. My parents were born in 1901 and 1903--they saw much in technological development in their lives. Except for nuclear power I cannot remember them ever expressing fear about any of the advances and even then they weren't paralyzed with fear and had no problem with nuclear energy. I was born in 1942 and nothing that I've experienced has caused me anything but wonder at the advancements. Taught science, including physics and chemistry for years, and remember the first time we had computers in the school--writing our own programs with flow charts and cassette tapes.
But, what that virtual highway, zoom,zoom ( remember that commercial? I had no idea what it meant at the time--I think it was Cysceo ?) would lead to was so beyond my comprehension, I was fascinated. But now, I feel fearful. I remember the Northeast blackout and understood the part computers played in it but never realized how much more powerful these things could become. That part of the book was like science fiction, only it is science but it isn't fiction! Where will it lead, I wonder?
This is a review of an uncorrected proof, provided me by Goodreads in a giveaway in exchange for a review.

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