Child's story, while quite ingenious, contains echoes of other stories we all know, from "Frankenstein" to "1984" to "The Stepford Wives" to every mad scientist B-movie we saw as kids...."Death Match" should be a popular beach book this summer because it is slick, sophisticated entertainment, as well as a cautionary tale about artificial intelligence. But the novel is also derivative, uneven and burdened with too much high-tech mumbo jumbo about "avatars" and "computational hyperspace" and "basal compatibilities." Worst of all, it turns out that Liza can't really produce a perfect marriage. If you want one of those, you still have to trust in dumb luck.
Child's work as both solo author (Utopia) and with Douglas Preston (Relic; Still Life with Crows; etc.) always features concepts so high they threaten readers with nosebleeds. Eden, a computerized matchmaking corporation, promises clients who pay a $25,000 fee and pass strict psychological and physical testing that they will receive not just a date but a perfect romantic match, a soul mate with a lifetime money back guarantee. All of the couples brought together are blissfully happy; in the company's history no one has ever asked for a refund. The moving force behind Eden is a supercomputer named Liza and her designer, the brilliant, reclusive Richard Silver. Liza compares one million variables in its process, and those candidates with a 95% match rate are declared ideal mates. Six couples out of the 624,000 people who have gone through the program have had all million variables perfectly aligned, creating what Eden calls "Supercouples." But one of the supercouples has inexplicably committed double suicide. Dr. Christopher Lash, a psychologist specializing in marital relationships, is called in to discover what has gone horribly wrong. Within a week, a second supercouple have also killed themselves. Lash works with security technician Tara Stapleton to investigate some of the individuals rejected by Eden. At the end of the book Lash is in serious trouble, and the entire Eden house of cards is beginning to collapse. As in all of Child's work, there is plenty of interesting cutting-edge science and, in this case, psychiatric and computer lore. Most thriller veterans will know from almost the beginning who is behind the suicides of the supercouples, but putting it all together makes for an entertaining read. (May) Forecast: An intriguing premise, lots of fascinating science, a broad fan base and excellent film prospects add up to happy sales. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
For $25,000, people can find their perfect romantic partner thanks to a state-of-the-art operation known as Eden. Its founder, a reclusive computer scientist, has created "LIZA," a supercomputer capable of tapping into any records and files in her search to provide the "perfect match." When some of the couples begin dying under mysterious circumstances, former FBI agent Christopher Lash is called in to discover the cause. It's against this technical background that Child has set his latest suspenseful psychological thriller and proves once again that he is a master at building tension to a fever pitch. Narrator Barrett Whitener brings his considerable skills into play by sharply defining each major character and by maintaining a high level of menace and danger. A first-class thriller that deserves a spot in the audio collection of most libraries.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Second solo work by Child, who writes mighty thrillers with Douglas Preston (Still Life with Crows, 2003, etc.). The genius-touched Child writes paragraphs of polymathic detail of the kind seen most often in the novels of Richard Powers. As in his first solo flight, Utopia (2002), he again creates a gifted person who loves his toys. In Utopia, the entertainment genius Eric Nightingale created a Disneyesque theme park featuring four worlds: Gaslight, Camelot, Callisto (space age stuff), and Boardwalk. This time around, the lonely computer brain Richard Silver creates Liza (as in Shaw's Pygmalion), a fabulous artificial intelligence construct that can teach itself to think with ever increasing speed, depth, and sensitivity. Then Silver decides to devote Liza to resolving problems of human happiness, particularly in mating choices, and he erects, in Manhattan, the amazing building named Eden, Inc., where for $25,000 a person can be scanned genetically, psychologically, and otherwise for the perfect mate. In the four years of Eden's huge success, no ill match has asked for its money back. All clients, like Stepford wives, remain perfectly mated-some more perfectly than others. These superperfect matings, of which Eden has produced six, are called supercouples. But now something terrible has been happening to them: two of the six pairs have committed suicide. Eden, Inc., calls in Dr. Christopher Lash (author of Congruency), a psychologist specializing in marital relationships who's also a burned-out and retired forensic psychologist with the FBI Behavioral Science team working out of Quantico. Lash has to dig into the deep guts of Liza to find a reason for the suicides-but all he comes to arecloudless dead ends with supremely happy couples smiling at him. Finally, Lash himself must go through Eden's screening process to understand how it works, and, although he's turned down as a client, Liza nonetheless finds his perfect mate. And the, well, murderer? Big surprise. Terrific writing-though the climax, overly spun out, sticks to thriller format. Agent: Eric Simonoff/Janklow & Nesbit
PRAISE FOR LINCOLN CHILD’S PREVIOUS NOVEL, UTOPIA:
“Ultra-entertaining…. Lincoln Child weaves fascinatingly plausible technologies and a frighteningly believable tale.”
Dan Brown, author of THE DA VINCI CODE
“As far as plot, action and suspense are concerned, UTOPIA could hardly be improved upon, but that is only the first of Child’s achievements. His characters are first-rate, as is his writing…. UTOPIA is a sensational piece of popular entertainment. If you’re looking for intelligent fun, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
Washington Post Book World
“A beautifully crafted scare-fest…. UTOPIA’s gadgetry is heaven for techno-thriller fans, and the threats from the sabotaged attractions are startlingly inventive. Here’s hoping for a sequel.”