Wired

Independently published by Paragon Press for Douglas E. Richards; no star rating given for indies.

SUMMARY (from cover): (SciFi thriller) Kira Miller is a brilliant genetic engineer who discovers how to temporarily achieve savant-like capabilities in all areas of thought and creativity. But what if this transcendent level of intelligence brings with it a ruthless megalomania?

David Desh left the special forces after his team was brutally butchered in Iran. Now he has been reactivated for one last mission: find Kira Miller, the enigmatic genius behind a bioterror plot that threatens millions. But when Desh learns that the bioterror plot is just the tip of the iceberg, he is thrust into a byzantine maze of deception and intrigue, and he becomes a key player in a deadly game he can’t begin to understand. A game that is certain to have a dramatic impact on the future course of human history. . .

REVIEW: Wired is a well-written, page-turning thriller with strong science fiction elements.  This book gives new meaning to the phrase “evil genius” with a drug that links sociopathy to IQ.  Douglas E. Richards’ novel is, in a word, brainy.  If you enjoy solving logic puzzles or deciphering riddles, this is the thriller for you.  I’m not talking about Da Vinci Code type quests and keys, but psychological logic puzzles centered around the characters.  Given a set of factual events, how might those events be spun to tell opposite stories about a character’s motivation?  A whole slew of psychic dilemmas are posed, rooted in questions of what makes people do what they do, how they make choices, and predicting what choices they will make.  The fun is Wired adds an extra element: characters have access to a drug that enhances their intelligence to a truly super-human scale.  How can a normal person predict what’s going on in the head of an enhanced person?  And what advantage does the psychic enhancement have for the person under the drug’s influence?

I’d say this is the novel’s greatest strength, and perhaps its main weakness as well.  Some of the conversations–which can be lengthy–might leave your head spinning.  I enjoyed that aspect of the book (being a puzzle type of person).  Others might not.

There is some real science in Wired, especially discussions about neurobiology, but in my opinion this book falls more on the SciFi side of the spectrum than SciThri.

Wired’s plot, as described in the summary, boils down to a damaged ex-Special Forces guy hunting for a female genius.  You can probably guess how some of that turns out.  But I bet you won’t anticipate all the plot twists.  I rate myself as average on predicting twists, and I was surprised a couple of times.

Along with the usual thriller action/chase aspects (which are better than average in their construction), Wired touches on intellectual themes.  In particular, the existence of God, parallel universes predicted by quantum physics, and the potential consequences of human immortality are all discussed by the characters.  When’s the last time you read a thriller that mentioned Friedrich Nietzsche’s “superman”?

Fear not, Richards writes it well.  You’ll turn the last page and your thoughts will linger on some of the profound themes the author raised.

Wired now has a sequel, Amped. Douglas E. Richards has also published a hardcover with Tor/Forge (released Sept. 2013); read ScienceThrillers review of The Cure here.

I would be remiss not to mention that the Wired ebook has had great commercial success. The author states it was the #1 Kindle seller in both the technothriller and SF categories in 2011.

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.

If you like intelligent science in your fiction, you might enjoy:
Petroplague by Amy Rogers

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