|Postcard from - 'Mind of a Child' book review|
Before I start, it's important to say that the author gave me a free copy of the book on the condition I write a completely honest review. Now, with that said, there are substantial spoilers here, so be aware.
The story takes place in the near future, on the edge of the singularity and comes complete with nanotechnology and AI. It starts with a special forces detachment operating in Syria working for a company that appears to be 'running' wars to try out new weapons. Cynical of course, but I had no problem accepting the premise. Leon, the head of the special forces group says that the regular army is 25 years ahead of the public, and they are 50 years ahead of the army, but I found that harder to accept.
The rest of the book was a problem or me too, so let me explain.
The central characters are Leon, a modern Tesla called Natty and his similarly talented wife. The chief bad guy is Truman who runs the corporation Natty works for. Truman wants Natty to have a holiday in the Amazon jungle, and the special forces team are there to support and protect him. Bear in mind Natty is completely paranoid and has problems leaving the house, so that just doesn't add up.
Eventually, after causing chaos at the airport, they all pile into some C-17's and fly down to Brazil to land in a patch of freshly cleared ground. Now the C-17 is rated for unpaved airfields (recognising the possibility of damage), but not a patch of ground that was recently rain forest cleared by a farmer.
In the forest, Truman has linked up with the head of a local Indian tribe that's heavily into eco-terrorism and want to protect the rain forest at any cost. Having read what's happening own there, I can understand that, I'm just not sold on the psychoactive drugs and the mind-control that underpins everything they do, and which gives them the ability to resist or ignore damage and become invisible at will.
Early on in their Amazon adventure the soldiers get injected with nanobots which give them enhanced healing powers, skin able to replicate jungle camouflage and the ability to change into what reads like an insect swarm, fly off and reassemble with no ill effects.
The holiday is actually a wargame planned by Truman, and in quick succession Natty's group have to face nanotech infused natives, 100 foot high robots controlled by the natives and reconstructed intelligent dinosaurs who use nanotechnology to alter their genome in real time making them more resistant to the weapons used against them. For a 75 year advance, those weapons seem relatively normal, apart from something that appears to create a black hole when initiated. It's all guns, rockets and lasers.
Add to the mix a huge flying saucer constructed under the seas of Europa, a clone Natty made of his wife called Cassandra (who's the most interesting character in the book) who is a borderline psychopath, vehicles able to morph into any needed shape from jeep to plane to rocket, and which include artificial general intelligence, and a huge underground lunar base.
For me the book comes over as confused and over-written. The last half dozen chapters read completely differently from the previous eighty-five or so and attempt to provide explanation for the preceeding story. The most interesting part is the author notes at the end which provide links to articles describing current projects involving AI, nanotechnology and CRISPR.