Early Adopter by Drew Harrison

Early Adopter by Drew Harrison
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The Price of Tomorrow, Paid Today
“Early Adopter” is a collection of short stories from the edge of human progress. Eight stories hold dark mirrors to our own world… experience thought-provoking sci-fi, technologic tragedy, and pulse-pounding thrillers.

To Run Again: Dr. Laura Brandie is ready to change the world.
She’s the lead researcher behind the KSE, a revolutionary cure for paralysis and neurodegenerative conditions. And now, by good fortune, she’s found the perfect candidate for her first human trial: a man who suffers from locked-in syndrome.
Brett Harmon’s paralysis is total: he can’t move his arms, legs, torso, neck, or face. To the outside world, he’s little more than a statue that breathes… but Dr. Brandie’s KSE might be the miracle that allows Brett to run again.

Homonoia: The world faces an unprecedented alignment of catastrophes and failing systems, far too intricate and interconnected for any human to solve. Frank Burman joins with seven other volunteers for Project Homonoia–a radical, last-ditch effort to postpone the apocalypse. Separate minds link to form one multidisciplinary consciousness, the world’s first human superorganism… a hive mind. But with the world’s health rapidly failing, can Project Homonoia work out its kinks in time to make a difference?

Early Adopter: A loner enters into a relationship with a new type of partner: an AI agent, programmed to be the “perfect companion.”
Sure, it’s all self-deception and a game of pretend, as she’s not actually real… but where simulated consciousness is concerned, maybe the lines between real and real enough can get blurry.

And many more!

Science fiction is for everyone, the earnest and the unsure alike.

The character development in “Early Adopter” was realistic and well done. While the unnamed main character was intelligent and resourceful, he was also incredibly sexist. I was as irritated by how he objectified and dismissed women as I was intrigued by his budding relationship with Alison, the AI agent he created and then spent hours interacting with each day. Part of him seemed to understand that it was deeply wrong for him to treat women – and women-shaped artificial intelligence – the way that he did, and I had to keep reading to find out if this faint glimmer of self-awareness would be enough to encourage him to make some genuine and sorely needed changes to his life. This could have easily been expanded into a full-length novel, yet I was satisfied with the way it ended even while daydreaming about what might happen next.

While I enjoyed reading them all, there were a few stories in this collection that I thought would have benefited from some more development of which “Commercialopolis” was one such example. It was written from the perspective of a robot named Addybot V3 who was hired to increase sales by coming up with ads that humans would enjoy. While I liked the fact that the author took creative risks here by writing it in the form of a poem and not following conventional storytelling rules, I struggled with how little the plot progressed. There were plenty of descriptions but not much time spent showing what Addybot V3 did at work or how their choices affected the world around them. If only this had been easier to follow!

Reverends aren’t that common in modern science fiction, so I was curious to see how Reverend Jacob Waters would respond to a mysterious job offer from his old friend Alex in “The Emulated.” Alex had been hired to create a computer simulation that became far more complex and human-like than she would have ever assumed it could, and she needed Jacob’s advice to figure out how best to respond to this unexpected turn of events. There were some fantastic plot twists in this one that asked thought-provoking questions about forgiveness, why a benevolent god or programmer would allow evil to exist, how humans are naturally meant to behave, and how we should respond to suffering among many other topics. Any one of them would have sufficed to nudge the plot forward, so having all of them included only deepened my enthusiasm to see where things went next.

Early Adopter has piqued my interest and made me want more from Mr. Harrison.

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