bestselling science fiction novel: Wired by Douglas E. Richards

Amazon boasts that this book was the #1 bestseller for an entire year in both technothrillers and science fiction. I don’t think this speaks well for the reading taste of Amazon’s customers.

Wired is the first of two novels in Douglas E. Richards’ series about a near-future breakthrough in amplifying human intelligence. The topic is an important one. It’s central to the ongoing discussion about the uses, and dangers, of artificial intelligence. But Richards takes the subject in a strange and implausible new direction. The scientific basis of the technology he describes is difficult to find. I suspect there is no such basis.

Still, if the author had hung a credible story on even this thin thread, he might have succeeded in creating a powerful science fiction novel. Unfortunately, the characters he portrays come across as just as unlikely as the technology. There’s Kira Miller, who is a genius at genetic engineering. She’s responsible for the big breakthrough. David Desh is a retired Special Forces officer whose physical prowess is over the top. And the villains, of whom there are several, are easy to picture tying helpless females to train tracks in the face of ongoing locomotives while twirling their moustaches.

Wired (Wired #1 of 2) by Douglas E. Richards (2012) 358 pages @@ (2 out of 5)

Richards is obviously familiar with the mechanics of writing a thriller. He demonstrates skill in plotting, pacing, building suspense, and finding fresh ways to surprise the reader. But there were just too many surprises to suit me. Beyond a certain point, I found myself rolling my eyes, wondering “Is this guy for real?” However, it’s clear that Richards does know a few things about science. The occasional digressions into neuroscience make that clear. They’re the only reason I kept reading through to the end.

I do not think I’ll read the sequel to Wired.

Douglas E. Richards holds degrees in microbiology and molecular biology from two major Midwestern universities. He has written fourteen novels, five of them for young adults.

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