There are many things we disagree about here on Earth, but the fact that we are in a period of rapid technological advancement isn’t one of them. Human beings are doing things every day that would have seemed like something out of far-flung science fiction fifty years ago.
In the cleverly titled P.O.Vee by Denis Jay Klein, readers are flash-forwarded two decades into the future, when android technology is beginning to find its footing, and the first real attempts at artificial intelligence are being fleshed out. Klein is a masterful storyteller who paints the future in completely believable terms, packed with the same human failings and fortitude that readers can recognize in themselves.
The main character of the book, Dr. Matt Torance, is the Dr. Frankenstein of this novel, working to provide a “mind of their own” for a generation of androids, and he is closing in on working out the kinks. As with any world-shattering advancement, there are quite a few iterations before he gets it right. P.O.Vee chronicles some of the misadventures and action-packed moments that would likely accompany an achievement of this magnitude.
International conspiracies abound to capture Matt and his tech, while he attempts to hold together a messy personal life. He isn’t some brilliant mastermind bent on world domination, but his creation could shift the world, and that makes him a target. Matt is a remarkably likable character, and his normalcy makes him very easy to support and root for as a reader. He doesn’t always make the right choices, and he isn’t classically heroic, but something about those faults make the story even better. The juxtaposition of world-changing tech and personal problems makes for compelling entertainment.
The novel darts between humorous asides and relaxing scenes to thrilling sequences and rapid-fire dialogue and descriptions. Klein has a way with words, particularly in the detailed nuance of each scene. He doesn’t focus on the broad strokes; he creates mood through tiny bits of observation, and they truly stick with the reader. The progression of the plot is also methodical, and by the end of the story, the full gravitas of a potential android generation can be truly felt and understood.
For those who want to look at a book as a big-picture concept, P.O.Vee is an insightful and revealing peek at humanity’s future. There is no doubt that artificially intelligent robots will become a part of human culture at some point, and this book gives a necessary warning: don’t rush to create something you don’t fully understand. It’s not only advice for the rising robotics industry, but also an important guideline for modern life.
We are moving so quickly now, even in the year 2017, that it is nearly impossible to imagine how the world will appear in two years, let alone in two decades, but author Denis Jay Klein brings an eye-opening perspective on what such a universe could look like, and, to be frank, he paints quite an alarming picture. Drawing on inspiration from the masters of the sci-fi genre, this is a thoughtful, amusing, and exciting novel that marks the start of a memorable series.
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