And you snag a copy. (Ba dum ching!) No, seriously. Go grab one.
A month later and I’m still figuring exactly how lucky I was to be included in the Immerse or Die story bundle. Ive got a never ending to-read list that includes reading for fun, reading for study, and reading for plain ‘ol work. In between these Ive seeded books from my fellow IoD bundle partners. And the awesome keeps coming.
My latest read was a jaunt into the not so distant future with Bryce Anderson’s The Improbable Rise of Singularity Girl.
I was first drawn to this book by the gorgeous cover. That and the title. I mean this is a title that will rock any sci-fi aficionado in the ansible no matter what quadrant of the universe they call home. But way before the bundle was released, Bryce picked up the transmitter and started shouting “WAIT! WAIT! Its not perfect!” To which if I didn’t have eight other books to read, I would’ve told him to buzz off.
I sulked and dumped the first edition from my Kindle to start in on an indie reading frenzy. The bundle books were all four to five star solid reads and by the time I got back to IRSG, Bryce had a bar to jump set so high he’d need a three stage rocket to come close.
With an even better cover and apparently a few minor tweaks, I was finally able to dive into the world of Helen Roderick, ambitious yet wounded grad student who had a detailed plan for her future which probably didn’t come from the admissions office.
You see, and I don’t think this is much of a spoiler, Helen only makes it through the first third or so of chapter one before she’s dead of self-inflicted science.
Helen becomes a virtual entity trapped in a computerized state of consciousness of her own design. There she explores her limits (and lack thereof) as she attempts to prove to the world that shes every bit as human as the next girl running on borrowed clock cycles.
The story unfolds with humorous footnotes (of the Pratchett-esque variety) and a solid dose of emotion as Helen wrestles with the complications of interpersonal relationships brought on by the lack of a physical form. Throughout book one, you always have the sense that Helen is real – that her human spirit survived this unique transformation and somehow, despite the loss, has kickstarted an evolutionary shift toward the next stage in humanity.
The novel isn’t without a few hiccups. The transition from book one to book two is a major shift so that you have a very different kind of story playing out in the final acts. Helen’s digital evolution has progressed into alien realms and a reader might be thrown by the jarring difference. Book one sets up this shift nicely enough, but the tone is very different afterwards. (Of course, I’m not guilty of doing things like that in MY books…) Trust me though, you’ll plow on through that little twist as the intriguing personal drama unfolds into an epic confrontation with a fragmented Helen struggling to reconnect to her humanity.
Anderson’s work is thoughtful, humorous and even manages to pack in plenty of action and adventure with a dash of political intrigue. These are the books that the Big Five (four, three…we got a countdown going yet?) won’t touch, not because of poor execution or craft but because it doesn’t fit neatly on their calcified shelf. Often, these works are the most worthy of attention while the big guys are trying to figure out the optimum placement for Twivergent Games III.
For the skeptical, I’d like to point out I no longer have any reason to be charitable to the books in this bundle (nor was I ever softballing these reviews – these are all good books). The sale is long over. Yet The Improbable Rise of Singularity Girl continues the trend of me asking “how is it I managed to get into this bundle of badassery?”