A NOVEL SET IN THE UNIVERSE OF INTERFACE ZERO FROM GUNMETAL GAMES
Dubbed Interface Zero by those who created it, the Tendril Access Processor—or TAP—downloads the Global DataNet and Hyper Reality directly into the minds of billions of users across the solar system, bringing the world an unparalleled level of interconnectivity, and danger. Malware plagues the Deep, and hackers manipulate the Tendril Access Processor to upload malicious viruses, to steal secrets, and even the identities of the unwary.
And that is only the beginning.
In 2088 a massive solar flare disrupts Earth's satellite network, leaving the world in chaos as all TAPs malfunction simultaneously. Hyper Reality overlays are indistinguishable from the physical world, and global riots make the whole world a war zone.
Amidst this madness, two AIs go to war, using humanity as their pawns.
Two self-aware artificial intelligences exist out in the vast computer network that connects humanity. One of them, called Charon, would be happy to see the end of humanity. Another, called Prophet, thinks artificial intelligence can work with humanity. Both are disrupted when a solar flare hits the Earth. Before the solar flare hits, Prophet sets five people on a quest to be reconstructed in the aftermath. Charon plans to use the chaos in the aftermath to keep that from happening. The five characters on the quest are well realized and I found myself caring about each of them and I particularly enjoyed seeing their interactions with each other as they grew through the novel.
One element of this novel I really liked was that it felt like cyberpunk done right. This portrayed a realistic view of humanity, always wired into the internet, living and working as people do, until the technology is suddenly yanked away from them. This felt authentic and I didn't have to willingly suspend disbelief, I felt like I was seeing a possible future. The reality sucked me in and characters I could believe in propelled me through to an ending that was satisfying but demands a sequel.
The good news is: For an RPG-based novel, this is a decent one. The writing style is professional and does not feel awkward as it sometimes does if roleplayers turn into self-proclaimed authors. As a result, the book is a pleasant read.
Nonetheless, I have three things to criticise: - As in a lot of scifi and cyberpunk novels, the book uses a deliberately confusing language that is supposed to transport the "otherness" of the setting but simply ends up confusing me. But I know that this is just me and that there are readers out there who like this style of writing. - The whole plot sounds quite artificial. So here are your two super-intelligent AIs battling each other. They are so intelligent that they can do "quantum calculations" to make predictions of the future (ouch...). And then the best the "good" AI can come up with is a plan that is so absurd and so unlikely to succeed that it makes you cringe. You have to assemble all five heroes (if only one of them gets killed, everything is lost), then you have to find X and go to Y and sacrifice your friend and then you will have saved the world... It's like one of these typical super-villain plots where one absurd component is added to the next, but because the author has an unlimited supply of plotonium, it all works out in the end. - And finally, I was hoping to get an introduction into the "Interface Zero" setting, but since the story unfolds during a major catastrophe, little of the actual setting can be seen.
Nonetheless, the book was entertaining and makes for a nice in-between read.