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    Review of TRANSCENSION by Damien Broderick

    In the not terribly near future, mall-rat Amanda seeks thrills and the admiration of her fellows. When the game takes her to a part of the world that has given up science to live under the rules of the 'god of one's choice,' Amanda is forced to confront her responsibilities and the end of her extended adolescence. Mathewmark lives in the anti-technology enclave, yet he doesn't quite fit. Amanda and her adventures appeals to him at the same time as it repels him. The two flirt with danger and each other, while the world itself is being driven toward a new age.

    The evolving attraction/repulsion between Amanda and Mathewmark serves as backdrop to the plans of an artificial intelligence, Aleph. Aleph is the fast-evolved descendent of early artificial intelligence work (partly conducted by resurrected character Abdel-Malek) which serves as an invisible but dominant character through much of the novel. Human decisions to renunciate higher technology, both in Mathewmark's enclave and in the larger society of the Metro has clearly done little to constrain the power of this over-intelligence. Indeed, reality itself becomes questionable as neither characters nor the reader can always determine what exists, and what exists only in the mind of Aleph.

    Author Damien Broderick begins his work with quotes from unibomber Theodore Kaczynski and Sun technologist Bill Joy and uses the novel to address the question of whether humans can renunciate the future and draw a line in the sand. For the most part, though, the novel is the story of two people from two different societies who must strive to determine whether they can create a relationship--or whether they even want such a strange relationship. The parallel to the relationship between machine and man is implicit but largely unexplored.

    Broderick's fine writing keeps the reader focussed on the page although the future-speak by the mall rats is occasionally distracting.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 11/12/02

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