Sirk TV Book Review: LIGHTLESS [Del Rey]

lightless

The light and darkness of artificial intelligence brews in the ideas that continues to precipiate our collective unconscious. In an ongoing age where technology simply at times exacerbates different ideals that used to take on simpler forms, these kind of stories are starting to take on different forms in new science fiction. With new ideas of physics being introduced and new possibilities open, different modes of logic influence the new stories we are starting to tell. In “Lightless” [C.A. Higgins/Del Rey/304PGS], this story structure comes in the form of a new experimental spaceship using the power of a black hole at its core to create new ways of travel and thinking. After minding its business in a age where revolution in the solar system is hitting on an interplanetary levels, people are torn between the stability of the System and the breakdown of a rebellion manipulated  by certain factions. Within this vision you have mercenaries and people who you don’t know which side of the bias they land on. Beyond that, you have people that just want to get the job done. “Lightless” works in the fact of the powerful characters working through their ideas and agendas in a closed environment with one gigantic “if”: the ship itself at the center of what is happening. The two mercenaries in question per se are Ivan and Mattie who find their way onto the ship thinking there is something interesting there perhaps to steal. Of course, from the beginning as the ideas read on, there definitely could be some form of a ruse. Ivan is captured and Mattie seems to escape in a escape pod. The next character in question is Ida Stays, a secret agent for the system who is brought in to interrogate Ivan whose father was a revolutionary. Much of the book progresses on the idea of this interrogation. The wordplay back and forth along what seems to be going on outside the sphere of influence is what truly makes the book tick. It is as much about what is said in that room as what isn’t…and that is the genius of the book. It gets a little technical along the way but the point of view of each of these characters makes you believe a little bit in each of their causes. Althea, like Noomi Rapace’s character in “Prometheus”, is the dark horse of the tale but also in many ways the most altruistic despite her naïveté. She only cares for one thing: the purity of “her” ship which from the moment we meet her has already been compromised. Everybody…including the computer itself, Anaeke, the “ship”, who eventually achieves a kind of consciousness, is always one step ahead of her. What is continually engaging as well is how the computer interprets the brutality of man in reflection to her sense of reality especially in a later scene between Ivan and Ida where the tables are turned. Like HAL, the notion of morality cannot enter in because that is a human emotion. It comes down to logic but because of the samples given and the fact that, like HAL, she was engaged with maybe erroneous information, her vision is skewed. Our creations are what we make of them. From there, they have to go out on their own. The reveal of the background revolutionary story and its participants comes out quite well. This could be a stage play the way it is presented and that is meant as a compliment because most of the conflict can be reduced is a chess game. And like in “View From A Bridge”, it needs a catalyst. That catalyst is Althea. Her horror and eventual acceptance of her fate drives the story even when everyone else has fulfilled their destiny or has fallen prey to it. In many way, it is the true form of Darwinism, along with a bit of luck that drives “Lightless”. In this way, the book shows that, in many forms, such a jourjney leading to an uncertain future is never quite what it seems.

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Posted on October 5, 2015, in Other Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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