I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
on October 24th 2012
Genres: Adult fiction, Science fiction
Source: ARC from publisher
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His criminal past catching up with him, a troubled young man seeks escape into digital utopia by uploading his consciousness into a computer -- just as first love casts his life in a new light. In this thrilling near-future science-fiction novel, Mark McClelland explores the immense potential of computer-based consciousness and the philosophical perils of simulated society.
To escape the hacker crimes of his youth, Raymond Quan has worked out a brilliant but extremely risky scheme. Taking advantage of his position on the University of Michigan’s Human Mind Upload Project, he plans to upload his consciousness into a computer, but make it look like it failed. It will appear to others that he died, while he secretly whisks his uploaded mind off to a remote computer, to live out his life in a virtual world of his own creation, free from society and the far-reaching eye of the law.
In the midst of all this, he works up the courage to reach out to Anya, an attractive and outgoing scientist on the upload research team, and much to his surprise he discovers the attraction is mutual. He finds himself entering the first meaningful relationship of his life, just as pressures force him to accelerate his already-dangerous upload plan. To make matters worse, the technology he intends to use has not yet been tested on humans — he would be the first person to make the jump to a pure-digital mind.
"Upload" is ultimately a story of love and self-discovery, and the crucial role of connection-to-society in the ability of the individual to achieve fulfillment.
This story had a REALLY GOOD PREMISE. And it seemed really realistic, too. For the first 2/3 of the book, I was like, yeah, in the year 2070 if they had all this possible, this is probably a likely scenario. But then the last third of the book hit…..
Ok, I feel like I have to explain a bit. This may contain some spoilers, so read on if you dare.
The book starts with a kid years in the future who has access to all this amazing technology mainly revolving around v-worlds, or virtual worlds, where the possibilities are nearly endless if you are like him and have all the hacks. All of them. But the kid’s in a state home, ditched by his family, and so his childhood isn’t what you’d call normal. Then he goes to live/work for with this guy who is a v-world addict, and he basically gets tons of money from the guy to build whatever he wants. But then the guy dies and Raymond (the kid) is scared of getting blamed so he does a lot of cover-up stuff and everything is fine.
Fast-forward to adult Raymond, who is working at a company who is working on the ability to upload animals/humans to v-worlds, so they don’t need their bodies anymore but their minds can exist in v-worlds of their creation via avatars. They test these with sick animals who would die anyway, and are pretty successful, but several companies are against the idea of uploading humans because of the usual ethics issues. Raymond has this idea that he will eventually upload himself one day, in secret, as long as he can be sure of being successful. He meets Anya, and they start going out a bit. Raymond is not a social person, but she gets him to open up a bit. Happy happy.
But then his past comes back to haunt him, and uploading becomes even more important. Then a lot of other stuff happens and his plan nearly fails.
But obviously he does eventually upload. Welcome to part II.
He appears in the v-world he had prepared but everything is not going the way he planned. He spends the first half of part II trying to figure out what went wrong. Turns out he does not have god-mode instantly like he thought he would, so he does have to worry about dying and things. ALSO turns out that there was a Raymond before him, for whom things went perfectly but he was a monster and did a lot of bad things. So Raymond has to find out what happened with previous Raymond. THEN all the confusing stuff happens. People appear that we’ve never heard of, the fancy science jargon amplifies by 1,000, and the plot turns in a million directions we could never have guessed, so I didn’t know what was going on AT ALL for most of it. It just happened so fast, and there was so much, and a lot of it wasn’t even explained. I felt like if McClelland had simply slowed down, offered clearer information (and in simpler language), and perhaps even simplified the plot itself, it would go a lot smoother and I wouldn’t feel like I had just been hit by a meteor (haha story reference).
Anya: She was a pretty good heroine, and that’s actually saying a lot considering how much of a character(s) RAYMOND was in the book. He took up like, all the character depth. It was hard to focus on anyone else. But McClelland did a pretty good job with what we did see of her. She was immensely helpful, and completely devoted. At the beginning she seemed a bit…off, maybe, and some of her interactions with Raymond were perhaps a bit unrealistic, but then post-upload she makes a lot more sense and I can see why he likes her so much.
Personas: I just love the concept of being able to create a person that is mostly real but then so obviously fake. They’re like little robots that do whatever you want and you can forget sometimes that they aren’t real. But I can also see how it would get lonely and frustrating to be with them. The human being is such a degree of complexity that I doubt ANY machine could be able to replicate it, but perhaps host it (like uploading).
b) Is there more? Is there a sequel? Where’s the epilogue? What just happened?
c) Yeah, it was about time for this book to end. Went on a bit long and just got more confusing. But it’s still a little unsatisfying….anyway, glad it’s finally wrapped up one way or another.
Good vs. Bad
- Writing style
- Plot in last third of book