Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Review: 'RedDevil 4' by Eric C. Leuthardt

The year is 2053. In St. Louis, Missouri, a neurosurgeon and scientist, Dr. Hagan Maerici, is trying to design "neuromorphic artificial intelligence." If he succeeds, his creation will have the ability to think abstractly and independently. The doctor is so obsessed with his project that he neglects his wife, Anna, who is fed up with her husband's lengthy absences. Thirty years earlier, neuroprosthetics forever changed how people interact. Now, ninety percent of the human population communicates and obtains information without cell phones or computers, thanks to the implantation of electronic devices in people's brains. In this brave new world, man's control over his destiny appears limitless.

However, Eric Leuthardt, in his dystopian thriller, "Reddevil 4," reveals the other side of the equation. What happens when we unwittingly unleash destructive forces that we cannot contain? The author raises this frightening question with the help of his varied and colorful cast of characters, including an evangelist whose arrogance and weakness lead him astray; a smug and venal drug dealer; and a billionaire whose vast wealth cannot buy him the love of his tormented, disfigured, and isolated son. A series of brutal murders brings Maerici together with a pair of detectives, a veteran cop named Edwin Krantz, and his younger partner, Tara Dezner, a tough and tenacious former Navy Seal.

We are horrified when Dr. Maerici, Krantz, and Dezner confront a powerful and seemingly invulnerable adversary. This is a violent and gruesome story that is loaded with scientific and medical jargon as well as passages of dark humor. However, even if we do not comprehend every nuance of the complex plot, it is entertaining to watch the good guys trying to work out what they are up against and how to counteract it. Fortunately, the doctor's invention is also his secret weapon: a virtual "boy" named Omid, whom Maerici hopes will become self-aware and attain "synthetic consciousness." The bottom line of this highly original and imaginative tale is that when we tamper with Mother Nature and put too much faith in technology, we do so at our peril.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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