Review: Technogenesis by Syne Mitchell

TechnogenesisThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The World Wide Web’s growing influence has caused concern among privacy protection groups.

Could the Web be used to destroy one’s reputation, steal one’s money, or even take one’s identity? The more we use the Web, the more danger exists that such scenarios could come true.

Syne Mitchell’s Technogenesis explores the consequences when the Net permeates all aspects of life.

Jasmine Reese’s natural affinity with the Net makes her valuable as an data miner. She can find information where others would ultimately fail, and she’s more at home surfing the Net than otherwise. When her data mask breaks and destroys her connection, Jasmine becomes a “disconnected.” While waiting for a replacement mask, though, she notices the “connected” apparently are watching her.

She delves into the phenomenon; these actions result in her kidnapping by a secret group safeguarding the Net. Their motive remains a mystery until they take her to a temple, where she meets the Net’s overmind, Gestalt. As the sum total of all the “connected’s” consciousness, Gestalt guides humanity toward peace, but the question remains: Does it work for humanity’s good, or rob people of free will? Many wish to destroy Gestalt over that very question, and Jasmine finds herself pressured into infiltrating the group that is attempting to kill the benevolent overmind.

Unlike Bikini Planet, Technogenesis builds a believeable future. By referencing the Net, a recognized part of our present, Mitchell gives readers the sense of familiarily, which she then slowly deconstructs. Eventually, the familiar becomes strange, made all the stranger because readers thought they understood where the plot would lead. The author’s deft touch pulls us along, guiding us into her world.

Similarly, Mitchell shepherds her main character through this possible future. Jasmine lives, loves and works, just like any normal, present-day person. Her affinity for the Net doesn’t define her, but merely accentuates her personality. A well-rounded character thus emerges, one with whom we can identify. As is the case with the setting, the familiar laced with just the right amount of unfamiliar produces a winning combination.

Mitchell’s newest story plumbs the depths of humanity’s fear of machines in a new and unusual way. Technogenesis holds our attention and, as good books will, causes you to think.