Laura Aldrich, a young Harvard psychology professor, is offered a fortune to take a job at the isolated island compound of genius-cum-madman Joseph Gray psychoanalyzing Gray's all-powerful, all-too-humanlike computer. By the author of Arc Light.
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Society of the Mind based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
The story starts with a Harvard psychology professor being recruited by an eccentric multibillionaire genius to come to the advanced technological research base on his private island and examine his secret artificially intelligent supercomputer, which is showing signs of depression, or multiple personalities, or something. So right away, you can see that this book is not exactly free of cliche. And for something that dares to use the word "thriller" in the subtitle, it's extremely dull and talky. There is some action at the end -- which I actually found much less interesting than the talkiness -- but for most of the book, the only point seems to be, "Hey, look at this nifty technology!" Admittedly, the technology is pretty nifty. But although the practical applications depicted in the book are ridiculously implausible for the near future, the ideas are all pretty familiar, and I'm fairly sure that I would have found them just as much so in 1996, when the novel was published. Which puts me far ahead of the protagonist, who is so consistently freaked out about absolutely everything that it seems as if she's never watched a science fiction movie or read a speculative magazine article. Or learned anything from her experiences earlier in the story. Come to think of it, I don't believe there's a whole lot of evidence of her supposed expertise in psychology, either.Despite its flaws, I actually found this surprisingly readable, in a no-real-emotional-investment-required, pick-it-up-and-put-it-down-over-a-busy-holiday way, for the first 250 pages or so. But by about halfway through, I was becoming increasingly bored with its ridiculously extended attempts to build up some supposed big, dark secret. (Which, come to think of it, was probably a good thing, because the secret, when it's finally "explained" at the end, is incredibly, incredibly lame.) By the last 100 pages or so, which is when the theoretically exciting action stuff is happening, I was so bored that I stopped paying much attention to the plot, and just spent my time thinking about how much I'd like to smack the main characters for being deeply annoying and for wasting my time. Sigh.
It was a very good book. It was so good that I though I remembered every single word on every single page.