ScienceThrillers.com review of Mind’s Eye by Douglas Richards
(very good; top 50% of SciThri)
Publication date: January 14, 2014
Category: SciFi thriller
Tech rating (out of 5):
Summary (from the publisher):
When Nick Hall wakes up in a dumpster–bloodied, without a memory, and hearing voices in his head–he knows things are bad. But they’re about to get far worse. Because he’s being hunted by a team of relentless assassins. Soon Hall discovers that advanced electronics have been implanted in his brain, and he now has two astonishing abilities. He can surf the web using thoughts alone. And he can read minds. But who inserted the implants? And why? And why is someone so desperate to kill him?
Mind’s Eye is the newest science fiction thriller novel by Douglas E. Richards, an author who has found success publishing both independently and with a major publisher. This book highlights Richards’ strengths and should be embraced by fans of his other novels.
The back-cover summary (above) sets the story, as does the excellent opening chapter in which the reader is driven forward with the same terrors and questions as the initially-nameless protagonist. Who is he? Why is he in a Dumpster? Why are people trying to kill him? And what’s with the voices in his head?
As Nick Hall comes to know himself, and the reader discovers him through his actions and choices, he is revealed to be an ordinary man rising to extraordinary heights to meet his desperate situation. Because Mind’s Eye is full of twists, there is much about the plot that I can’t reveal here (though clever readers will see many of the twists coming). Nick crosses the path of a woman and their fates become entwined as they try to stay one step ahead of assassins. A big game is afoot, one not fully revealed until the very end, and the villains working against Nick are many, though of varying types.
Douglas E. Richards’ authorial signature, on display in his earlier books Wired and The Cure, is to introduce an extreme technology that intimately affects some aspect of what it means to be human; to embody that technology in a real person who is placed in extreme peril because of the technology’s potential to disrupt the natural order and to empower villains; and to make it all believable and feel not like the story is set in some far-off future, but rather just over the horizon, say, in a decade or less. In Wired, the technology was super-human intelligence, induced temporarily by a drug; in The Cure, it was a cure for psychopathy. Here in Mind’s Eye, it’s not one but two extraordinary traits, surgically-induced: the ability to access the Internet using your mind, and the ability to read other people’s minds.
In each story Richards’ imagined technology is tightly linked to human psychology and society. Therefore his stories delve deeply into the implications of the disruptive tech. In Mind’s Eye, time and again the author surprises you with a fresh insight into the big and then bigger effects of ESP. What would this power do to the user? To his relationships with others? To society? To the economy, law enforcement, even global geopolitics? In conversational interludes throughout the book, the characters speculate about these issues and provide the intelligent reader with food for thought.
Richards writes with plenty of plot tension to keep the pages turning. Things get a little weak with romance elements and a few too many examples of bad guys talking first and shooting later. The biggest bad guy in the end is a cartoon. The author is a smart guy; he thinks through the permutations so events in the story are always logical. Then through the characters, he explains events to the reader, who at times may question why such explanations are needed. But the author dots all his i’s and crosses all his t’s, so to speak, and the various plot threads are all resolved to the reader’s satisfaction.
Incidentally, Mind’s Eye fits into a trend I’ve been noticing lately as a reviewer: lots of books about or related to transhumanism / the singularity. This is the idea of technology enhancing human abilities to the point that humans become something entirely different from what we are today. Do the fiction writers know something?
If you like Mind’s Eye, you’ll like Douglas Richards’ book WIRED