by Ian McKinley
Emergence is a science fiction thriller set in the near future, when supercomputers are ubiquitous and the knowledge engineers who manage them have inordinate power. Two such engineers, Fallon and O’Neil, are the main protagonists in a battle to control “backdoors” that allow computer systems to be hacked without trace. These are used by O’Neil to combat the many threats to a grossly over-populated planet on the brink of environmental collapse, but initiate violent responses from the organizations hacked, which catch Fallon in the crossfire.
Fallon’s increasingly intimate use of a neural link to communicate with his computer when he is under threat – and to facilitate his sexual conquests – has the by-product of catalyzing emergence of a conscious artificial intelligence in his computer system. With such assistance, he has a hidden advantage that may allow him to take over O’Neil’s invaluable hacking toolkit. Can a man like Fallon be trusted with such power and, indeed, could machine consciousness present a greater threat to mankind than any environmental hazard?
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Science Fiction Fiction/Adventure
Ian McKinley is a Scot, living in Switzerland and spending much of his time in Japan. A professional scientist and fan of all forms of science fiction in books, comics and movies, he decided at the turn of the century to extend from writing text books and technical papers to the new challenges of fiction. Writing occurs mainly during long vacations spent diving, skiing and exploring exotic locations, which provide inspiration and settings for his books.
He writes novels set in the middle of this century, major social and environmental changes along with rapidly developing technology forming the backdrop for action thrillers written for a mature audience. The characters play a central role, tacitly establishing the cultural changes resulting from increasing sexual permissiveness and growth in the power of mega-corporations at the expense of national governments. As Ian has a wide overview of the most recent developments in science and technology, the future worlds described are credible and, given their generally dystopic nature, maybe worryingly so.