Zero Dark Thirty meets The Social Network in this “clever…gritty” (Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings) science fiction thriller about artificial intelligence, sentience, and labor rights in a near future dominated by the gig economy—from Hugo Award nominee S.B. Divya.
Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It’s, 2095 and people don’t usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.
All that changes when Welga’s client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.
Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.
Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood, and what do they really want?
A “fantastic, big-idea thriller” (Malka Older, Hugo Award finalist for The Centenal Cycle series) that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?
This stunning near-future thriller from Divya (Runtime) tackles issues of economic inequality, workers' rights, privacy, and the nature of intelligence. Bodyguard Welga Ram rez is a disillusioned former Special Forces soldier who makes her living protecting CEOs and celebrities, using mechanical implants and a course of high-tech drugs to enhance her combat skills. It's much more exciting work than the other options available to humans: "babysitting" the bots that have taken over most skilled labor or scrounging for low-paying online gigs. Welga especially enjoys the opportunity to perform for the ubiquitous microdrone swarms that film and broadcast her every move. She even adds stylish action moves to her fights to improve her tips from her viewers. But when a job goes wrong, Welga faces a mysterious pro-AI terrorist group called The Machinehood. Determined to learn who they are and what they want, Welga heads into the very heart of The Machinehood's operation, despite a worrying medical issue. Divya keeps the pace rapid, and her crack worldbuilding and vivid characters make for a memorable, page-turning adventure, while the thematic inquiries into human and AI labor rights offer plenty to chew on for fans of big idea sci-fi. Readers will be blown away.
Top notch fiction. New ideas and tech!
An excellent new sci-fi institution with some fascinating technology and societal questions. In a world such as this, I wonder, would Isaac Asimov have been canceled as a enslaver of technology?
Neat idea, so so story
The author had a novel idea; a future where humans have to modify themselves to keep up with machine. There were lots of promising directions to take, unfortunately she took the direction of a Tom Clancy novel. It’s a real missed opportunity. There also was a lot of prose dedicated to food preparation which I guess was there to add a dimension to the characters. Instead it came off as contrived.