My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Review: Above Dark Waters

Above Dark Waters Above Dark Waters by Eric Kay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would put this story in the cyberpunk genre; although the author actually pays a little more attention to getting the science right than most. That is not to say that he always succeeds here, but that it is close enough to allow for a certain suspension of disbelief so that I could enjoy the story … because I am a bit retentive about details sometimes and getting things way wrong just bothers me.

The world is set up where the idea that started with The Principality of Sealand, a micronation off the coast of England, was expanded on to form a “seastead” craze … with at least 2 ridiculously large seasteads in the Northern Pacific serving as the primary settings for the story. One seems a lot more corporate while the other would be right at home in the Pirate Political Party. Guess which one the hero hails from? At any rate, the primary reason for the both appears to be cyber research, specifically into wetware tech and AI, which of course requires huge Data Centers that use the cold ocean water for cooling. Of course, there is a lot of detail that is glossed over in the book that would be required to make all of this work, but the general idea is actually interesting for my inner geek freak. There are two very important concepts that are explored here … the human/tech interface that allows a user to “hack” their own brain and general purpose artificial intelligence (AGI) that becomes sentient with an agenda that just might diverge a little from how it was originally conceived (yep … we have all seen the movie folks … so you know what to expect); however, while the ideas here are not new, they are combined in such a way that it was still fun to follow along.

The characters were interesting, and there was some growth here (given that the two main characters are ex’s at the start, there is a maturation that can still happen), but not really that much. Instead of more traditional character development, the story slowly builds a background to fill in the mystery of why they didn’t work). Both are driven, so when their goals diverged, so did the partnership, which seems to have allows taken second fiddle. Of course there is the required potential for reconciliation that is at the heart of the heroes journey, so it does all work rather well. And while most of the action happens in the last part of the book, the build up is fast paced enough to keep you engaged. Over all, I found the characters to be very relatable.

I enjoyed this book a lot … even when it devolved into word salad in parts toward the end … I am not really a fan of such choppy narration to build the transcendent feeling I think the author was going for … but many folks do like it. And it explores some important concepts about technology and whether or not there are things we should not do just because we can do them … and it does this in a very entertaining way … so I would say it is worth a read unless techie stories are just not your bag.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#AboveDarkWaters #KindleUnlimited

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.