Review: Author crafts glimpse into the future in 'Synapse'

  • This cover image released by Thomas Nelson shows "Synapse" by Steven James. (Thomas Nelson via AP)

    This cover image released by Thomas Nelson shows "Synapse" by Steven James. (Thomas Nelson via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/8/2019 8:28 AM

"Synapse" (Thomas Nelson), by Steven James

In "Synapse" by Steven James, it is 30 years into the future and artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where robots called Artificials can look human and can be programmed to experience pain and emotion. People pay for these companions for emotional support. The robots are indistinguishable from humans at a casual glance, and marriage laws have recently been passed allowing unions between humans and Artificials.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kestrel Hathaway is devastated when she loses her baby during childbirth. On her way home from the hospital she witnesses a terrorist attack and is able to save the life of one of the bystanders. When she arrives home, she learns that her brother, who works for the company that creates the Artificials, has given her one as a gift. She returns it, but changes her mind when she realizes she needs to talk to someone about her grief.

The name of the Artificial is Jordan, and he's not like the other ones of his kind. Once he's activated, he begins to question what it means to exist. Is there a God? And does he have a soul? What constitutes a living being?

"Synapse" isn't a retread of the Pinocchio story with the character wanting to be a real boy. It's the story of a created being that asks hard existential questions. Jordan's pursuit of answers makes the reader contemplate deep philosophical questions as well. What does it mean to be truly alive? What makes someone truly human?

The author has crafted a glimpse of a future when mankind and computer technology fully merge. He immerses the characters into a tense thriller, creating a unique and thought-provoking reading experience.

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