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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: The AI War

Daniel Keys Moran's Continuing Time series has been one of my favorites. He's a good writer with compelling characters that keep you reading, no matter how absurd the plots are. I once made the mistake of lending The Long Run to a friend on a bike tour, and during the night she retired to her tent and stayed up all night reading instead of sleeping and getting ready for the next day's ride. If you're unfamiliar with the series, read The Long Run and The Last Dancer before reading The AI War. The web-site for buying the book's incredibly unintuitive, expecting you to return to the product page after purchase in order to make the download, so you might want to visit Amazon instead.

The AI War is a Trent novel. Trent is one of Moran's great characters, and here he's involved in thwarting the Unification's big project. The plot-holes are pretty large: why build one giant ship instead lots of little ones. But the details are a lot of fun. Moran is a programmer by trade, and it's good to see his model of how a 10X programmer works. Trent infiltrates the project as the chief engineer, and soon puts the project on schedule. Along the way, we get a biography of a few side characters and some future sub-plots are set up.

If I'm annoyed by a few things, it's that the book's far too short (it says "part one"), and there's no AI war (yet) that as far as I can tell. I also wanted to see the unresolved plotlines from The Last Dancer filled in. Unlike other novels in other multi-part series, however, at least this is not a book where nothing happens, and it's a compelling read start to finish (I bought the book last night and it grabbed me by the eyeballs and made me stop reading the other book I was reading). You could read this book without reading any of the other books in the series, but I think you'd find the book a little less fulfilling without the rest of the back-story. Also, The Long Run is still a better read. Go buy it already.


Brendan Miller said...

I enjoyed that series a lot when you lent me the first two books... There was definitely a lot of nonsensical stuff in the plot though.

The way the Unification formed in such a short time frame and was able to take over all the major powers without suffering nuclear retaliation always seemed wildly improbable to me. Also it was really weird that France, a country with a population of 65 million, was essentially able to dominate the world militarily... I'm not sure those numbers work.

Piaw Na said...

Well, at one point England with its population of 51M was able to not quite dominate the world but definitely make a big dent at the problem. I don't think size is the issue. Political will and military capability both have to be there. You wouldn't think the US would be able to do it either, but it does.

In any case, I think if you can accept the backdrop (and it's nothing more than that), the rest of the books are so well written that you have no problem accepting the novels.