The Human Race

Independently published by O.C. Heaton; no star rating given for indies.

SUMMARY: (SciFi thriller) Ethan Rae, a reclusive young British tech billionaire, serves as a judge at a tech competition in Iceland where he meets Uma Jakobsdottir, daughter of a famed scientific genius. She proves that before he died, her father invented a practical teleportation device. A committed environmentalist, Uma wants to gift this technology to the world without profit, and she needs Ethan’s help to do it. They work in secret to prepare for a global roll-out but people associated with them start dying under suspicious circumstances. Before long, their lives are in danger as a ruthless industrialist seeks to silence them and steal the technology for his own purposes.

REVIEW: While a central premise of The Human Race is an unrealistic SciFi technology–teleportation–British author O.C. Heaton weaves plenty of real science and more into this thriller which is largely set in the fascinating country of Iceland. Despite the conflict between Uma’s idealism and Ethan’s pragmatism, the two forge a bond and a team to manage the release of the ultimate disruptive technology in a way they intend to benefit humanity. But as the bodies begin to pile up, Uma questions whether her father was right: mankind just isn’t ready for this yet.

STRENGTHS: The Human Race includes intelligent insights into diverse fields, including the airline industry, Icelandic geology, and more. Icelandic world view, local history and locations permeate the plot.  There’s a great car chase scene across the Icelandic “outback”, with both ice and steaming water involved, and later another action scene set in a steaming Icelandic hot spring. O.C. Heaton raises a fascinating philosophical question early in the book which I’m still pondering: in his teleportation system, a person’s body is not physically transported across the miles. Rather, it is reconstructed molecule by molecule at its destination. Given this, what happens to a person’s soul? And he leaves open the question, what if the “original” body were kept intact? Who is the “real” person? I also loved the legal complications of traveling from one country to another via teleport: your customs & immigration “papers” won’t be in order.

WEAKNESSES: Out-of-sequence chronology of early chapters may be confusing. The villain is introduced before the reader understands his role in the story, so for a while it’s not clear where this plot thread is going. The ending is more than just a set up for a sequel, it’s a cliffhanger, which may put off some readers.

Key words: quantum computing; teleportation; computer security; geothermal energy; Blue Lagoon

FCC disclaimer: A free e-copy of this book was given to me for review. As always, I made no guarantee that I would read the book or post a positive review.

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