Jenna Rideout (Reviewer) has just reviewed Threshold. September 19 2020
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Threshold is a science fiction thriller set in the year 2040, when the USA, Russia, and several other players are in a headlong race to be the first to create (and control) a transcendent super-AI. Unfortunately for the modern world so dependant on technology, the first such AI to arise gets loose and shut downs the world’s electric grid. Tangled up in this mess are Kip Wilde, one of the world’s leading AI specialists and the inventor of a world wide virtual reality network called The Stream, his terminally ill teenage daughter Becca who happens to be a grad student uniquely poised to communicate with super AIs, and a repatriated Russian hacker who was once on friendlier terms with Kip.
This book is incredibly well written if you have the scientific mind required to understand and appreciate it. It will definitely prove unreachable and thus uninteresting to some, and looking at the reviews posted before mine I’m not surprised to see people complaining that they need a degree to understand this piece. As someone who has studied in a STEM field and programs as a hobby, I thought it was brilliant!
Early parts of this novel, and the AI character Arturo throughout, reminded me of Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy, where the internet becomes aware and is named and guided by a blind teenage girl who’s uniquely connected to the internet due to experimental technology attempting to restore her sight. In other ways this title reminded me of Sterling’s Dies the Fire, though I’m happy to report that unlike Dies the Fire this book did not fill me with so much existential dread that I had to DNF. (Sorry Sterling.)
Falcon’s writing reminds me of Sawyer and Chrichton, the science fiction authors who entertained me in my teenage years and instilled a deep love of true hard sci-fi in me. Again, it won’t be for everyone. This is no space opera. It’s hard sci-fi. This story cannot be told without the deep exploration of physics and digital technology. I do think there was enough regular human conversation dispersed between the scientific and programming discussions to give the reader’s brain a break, and I love the way python coding was worked right into the text.
My criticisms for this title are few. First, and this may have been an ARC copy issue that has already been addressed, I found that the choice to use endnotes rather than footnotes wasn’t helpful to electronic readers, as there’s no easy way to jump to the note and then back to your place. This issue would be less cumbersome in print, but still not as easy to use as footnotes.
Second, the use of the internet abbreviation RL in dialogue was jarring to me. Perhaps this was meant to be a world building feature and this sort of shorthand is used in all areas of communication in this version of 2040, but RL was the only contemporary internet speak abbreviation I caught and it was used a lot. Generally if people are speaking to their real life/real world/offline contacts and need to differentiate real life and online, they still use the words real life, not the letters RL. That’s still reserved for text based communication. If 2040 has embraced speaking in colloquial acronyms there should have been more of them in use.
Finally, the ending. I love where it went and I see why it was important to get there, but the book took too long to get their after the climax. I spent a few chapters wondering why were were still hanging out with these characters. The final 10-15% of this book felt like it needed to either be a much more condensed epilogue or carved off and developed into a sequel.
All in all I enjoyed this book immensely and will seek out more titles by this author. 5 stars!
***** The story brought tears to my eyes so many times I had to take breaks before I could see to continue reading. I am a joyful, recovering alcoholic. In the course of my recovery adventure I have contemplated many philosophical concepts and considered a variety of perspectives regarding mass, energy and god (lowercase “g”). This book while telling an intriguing story also touches on potential realties as yet unexplored, assuming they could ever be at all. 5.0 out of 5 stars Patrick – Amazon – July 6, 2020
***** Threshold The best kind of science fiction, this takes you on ride to ask questions, to think & wonder. Judy Kastner – Google Play – July 6, 2020
***** Threshold is an amazing book! Lkaterie Neal – Google Play – July 1, 2020
***** An engrossing story set in 2040 when the race to create Super Intelligent Artificial Intelligence is keeping the brilliant minds of the world on their toes. A fascinating world where the Stream gives people their every experience without leaving home. Thrills at every turn, Kip Wilde is willing to do all he can to cure his daughter Becca of ALS. Kept me up all night reading, reading and still reading until I could no longer keep my eyes open! Excellent world building and language creation…
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeannette A.0 SIAI – Amazon – June 17, 2020
***** THIS is not an easy read. If you start it, make sure you can dedicate time for it. Because it’s the coolest damn thing I have read in… years.. Makes what is happening now, just a small glitch in time..
5.0 out of 5 stars Cindy – Whew. Amazon – June 17, 2020
***** BEST Science Fiction Novel of 2020! I can imagine Hollywood Directors clawing at each other to make this novel into a film! It’s that good. If you are a Sci-fi fan like me, don’t miss out on this. It keeps you captivated the entire time and pulls you into the universe every page. If this book becomes a Movie, I will absolutely be buying the first ticket. New favorite author!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Dominic M. – BEST Science Fiction Novel of 2020! Amazon – June 18, 2020
No internet. No screens. Not even cars. But one thing is working—A.I.
It crossed the THRESHOLD. No going back.
An autistic savant holds the key to the future. Any future. If there’s going to be one.
Becca Wilde, a terminally ill teenage autistic savant, senses a presence—an intelligence—in The STREAM, the virtual reality entertainment phenomenon created by her tech-billionaire father.
She believes the intelligence can create a cure, but her father intends to use radical technology. They are running out of time.
Then technology stops working.
All of it.
No Internet. No screens. Not even cars. But one thing is working—a Russian A.I. that mutated—and is now In the Wild.
Becca may hold the key to the future. Any future. If there is going to be one.
But…only if she can communicate with a super-intelligence—that hasn’t been invented yet.