Monday, August 10, 2015

The Six by Mark Alpert

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Adam, crippled by muscular dystrophy, and five other terminally ill teenagers sacrifice their bodies and upload their minds into weaponized robots to battle a dangerously advanced artificial intelligence program bent on destroying humanity.

REVIEW: Two questions…
1.  If you were terminally ill but were given the chance to live forever as a robot – would you take it?  
2. What if we developed a super computer programed to learn from their mistakes who decided humans were expendable?

Both of these premises come together in Mark Alpert’s thrilling novel, “The Six”. Adam and five other teenagers are given the opportunity to cheat death by having their brain functions transferred into an android. The kids and their families have a massive decision to make. Will they lose their personality? What part of us truly makes us human?  

Adam’s father is also the computer expert who had developed the super computer who learns from its mistakes. Ahh, if only us human’s would too… The computer deducts that humans; infallible and emotional creatures that we are, can shut it down permanently. The computer’s self-preservation tells it that it needs to eliminate us as a potential risk. Thus we become its prime target. The government, who has funded both products, sees the teens as an unknown equation for the computer. Perhaps they are the only way to save humanity from the super-computer we’ve created.

I was intrigued by both plot scenarios and how the author was able to meld them into a thought-provoking, high-action story. The reader is kept on the edge of their seats as the teenagers struggle to adapt to their new forms and their mission. The teens acted like teens, sometimes rebellious, sometimes cooperative, and never predictable. The computer scenario reminded me of an updated version of the 1980’s hit movie called “WarGames”. I can tell that the author, Mark Alpert, who is the editor for “Scientific American” has done his homework! This is a great book I could easily recommend to anyone from middle school to adult. The story had a satisfying conclusion but left the door open for future adventures. I can’t wait to see if there are sequels! 

FULL DISCLOSURE: copy obtained through Sourcebook publishing. 

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