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Fools' Experiments

3.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  102 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
We are not alone, and it’s our own damn fault...

Something demonic is stalking the brightest men and women in the computer industry. It attacks without warning or mercy, leaving its prey insane, comatose – or dead.
Mayhem is on the rise. Something far nastier than any virus, worm, or Trojan horse program is being evolved in laboratory confinement by well-intentioned but misg
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Tor Books (first published November 11th 2008)
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Jan 31, 2016 Ric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Near future hard SF

Because it exists to explore beyond human experience or knowledge, SF can tend to treat aliens more interestingly than humans. In the case of Fools' Experiments, the alien is a built-from-the-basics artificial life (AL), whose story of growth into maturity and self-awareness clearly dwarfs the drama of the humans who surround it. The best parts of this novel occur when the AL is on scene and exploring its cyber world. The author did not use any magic tech to construct AL and i
Feb 27, 2009 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Friends of Manny, P-1 and HAL
Edward M. Lerner tricked me. His novel Fools' Experiments starts off badly, as if Lerner had decided to wrest the anti-science thriller mantle from the late Michael Crichton's shoulders before his winding sheets were cold. With wooden dialogue, simplistic characterizations and lots of infodumps, Fools' Experiments seems at first to be nothing more than a potboiler with an axe to grind. There was one tiny clue - the properly-placed apostrophe in the title - that Lerner could be a more careful wri ...more
Liam Bury
Jun 07, 2012 Liam Bury rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed the way many people viewed technology. The fact that computers already think faster than us is amazing, but imagine what would happen if they were as observant as us. A computer program that can learn and change its own code to adapt to it's environment could be VERY hard to take care of and things can go horribly wrong. On the other hand, one of my favorite parts of the book are when the narrator switched to the view of the program and talks about what it's "thinking". I would ...more
Apr 18, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the way that Lerner described the AI's learning process. It had a decent pace and plot, and was consistent throughout.
Mar 27, 2009 Stefan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
So-so near-future techno thriller in the Jurassic Park vein: technology X leads to beastie Y set loose on unsuspecting society. The technology in question is Artificial Life, and the monster basically a souped up version of a computer virus. "Artificial Life" means the virus, rather than being a designed program, has evolved from a basic bit of code to a sophisticated and intelligent, um, bit of code that can grow, learn, be trained, and eventually starts showing predatory behavior. The story is ...more
May 29, 2009 Karina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 29, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very exciting techno-thriller. Really liked it and would recommend it to anyone interested in the genre; human-technology outpacing its creator, and causing havoc, perhaps gaining sentience.
Sean Randall
Apr 09, 2015 Sean Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was alluring, because of the subject matter; it felt like a Jim Hogan work with a healthy dollop of American arrogance added for good measure. If you're a fan of AI stories, it's worth a look.
Jul 01, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This turned out to be a great read. It starts out a little slow, but becomes fascinating. Experiments in artificial life (AL), Neural Interface Technology (NIT) and computer viruses combine to create a perfect storm for a techno-thriller. The cast of characters is large, but realistic in the way both male and female characters are portrayed, and I appreciate that. If you are into computer programming, software development, technology, life sciences and inter-species communication, you will proba ...more
Jun 22, 2013 DaveA rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was OK. The action wasn't really compelling, and the premise was both a bit far fetched and not too original. Lerner co-authored a few books with Larry Niven, which moved me to read his solo books. I might read one or two more before giving up on him. He's won some awards (Hugo? Nebula?) I might try to find out for which books and read those. A film, The Grandfather Paradox, based on a short story of his, won the 2006 Best Film Award at the Balticon Science Fiction convention, so I migh ...more
Apr 10, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terror in cyberspace done well.
Joe White
Dec 28, 2009 Joe White rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-shelf, fiction
Well written. The IT technology was fairly accurate, but the embodiment of applications having a personification and the general feeling of how the artificial life moved through switches and nodes as an entity with self control was a bit much. The battle to kill it was a bit of a reach, but this is fiction after all and it has to appeal to a broader mass of readers. I just had trouble suspending the current state of technical reality for the last half of the book.
Nov 22, 2009 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written with a good story. The IT aspects are mostly accurate. Suspension of disbelief has only a few hiccups. The worse thing about the work is a tension in the story line that seems to have no good correlation with the tempo and intensity of the story making us wonder why? I would recommend this to my IT friends and colleagues to read on holiday after a few brews but not to the general audience of science fiction readers.
Feb 05, 2009 Dennis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what can I say, I rarely find a book I don't like and this one had to be it. I don't know what it was, it was hard to pinpoint for me why exactly I didn't like it. It just didn't grab me and pull me into the book. I have had several books start out slow and then just hook me, this one was slow...and kept the same pace throughout for me.
Mar 03, 2009 Natalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didntfinish, sf
I enjoyed the first half, particularly the chapters from the point of view of the increasingly intelligent computer virus. Then I put it down and could not get back into the book, which seemed to becoming more plot-oriented and less idea-based. If I had maintained momentum I probably would have finished it.
Nov 08, 2010 Falbs rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book with some excellent ideas, but I wish authors would do a better job of giving us insight into how electronic battles would take place. I get a little fed up with authors just substituting real, physical battle scenes instead of coming up with a more original idea.
May 01, 2009 Jennie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This book was a pretty interesting story about what can happen when artificial life and computer viruses get together. It reminded me of a medical thriller gone to the computer side. The only complaint I have is it moved a little slow for me.
A cyberpunk horror story about how stupid humans can be when it come's to acquiring power. It gets 6.5 of 10 on my scale, a fun read, but purely escapist.
I'm giving this a 3 1/2 stars. You need to be a techie to enjoy. A story about AI.
Mar 14, 2011 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Implausible computer virus which can infect humans.
Frank Reiter
Not brilliant, but still quite entertaining.
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I'm a physicist and computer scientist (among other things). After thirty years in industry, working at every level from individual technical contributor to senior vice president, I now write full-time. Mostly I write science fiction and techno-thrillers, now and again throwing in a straight science or technology article.
More about Edward M. Lerner...

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“Examining the new assailants, the predator inferred something of vital importance: These creatures had been crafted specifically to attack it. The predator had no concept of a bloodhound, but there was no mistaking the scraps of its own code that the phages used to identify their prey. To identify it.

It could learn. It could react.

If even a quiet existence without offense could not convince its curiously slow-acting Opponent to leave it alone, its course was clear.

The predator would attack, and attack, and attack again. It would devastate and destroy for as long as it took to flush out its Adversary from wherever it hid in the vast network.

Whatever resources the unseen Foe most valued, most closely guarded--these were what the predator would attack.”
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