Dead Shift ~ Rho Agenda Inception #3

AudiobookReview

In this page-turning sci-fi adventure, the NSA’s most brilliant hacker is abducted and the world stands on the brink of cyberwar. The Ripper and his ghost team commandos are called to action, battling a host of enemies ranging from a genius tech-billionaire and the Chinese government to an emerging superintelligence capable of bringing the world to its knees. With every threat in play, Jack must confront his alien passenger and regain some semblance of self-control. As the origins of the Rho Agenda come to light, Jack struggles to embrace his destiny. But how can even one such as he prevail against an existential threat to humanity?

Jamal Glover is the best of the NSA’s elite team of hackers, known as the Dirty Dozen, who work in the War Room at the NSA headquarters, keeping the country safe from cyber attacks and a lot more besides. Nineteen years old and straight out of MIT, Jamal loves his job. He also loves his girlfriend, Jill, and is on his way home to have dinner with her. What awaits him will change his life and if the Chinese government’s plans succeeds it will spell disaster and the threat to humanity will be immense and devastating.

The noise behind him was the faint sound of soft-soled sneakers on tile, but it brought his head around. The man who stood in the kitchen entrance was dressed in black, although no mask covered the fine East Asian features of his handsome face. Weaponless he waited, his open hands hanging loosely at his sides.

Jamal released his hold on Jill, letting his fury pull his six-foot body erect, but the ease with which the killer slipped his punch and dropped him on his face surprised Jamal. As he lay face down, locked in some sort of immobilizing hold, Jamal felt a sharp sting as a needle slid into the side of his neck, releasing a swirling fog that robbed him os his rage. As Jamal’s surroundings faded to nothing, an overwhelming sense of loss accompanied him into the dark.

Jack, Janet and the NSA’s special force, the ‘ghost’ team, are called in to rescue Jamal and stop the advancement of a powerful artificial intelligence initiated by the Chinese spy, Qiang Chu, and Steve Grange, a multi millionaire pioneer in medicine, more specifically brain surgery. He has an agenda of his own which involves his long dead wife.

With non stop action, teamed with treachery, death and destruction, the ghost team are up against an adversary like no other.

Jack battles against, and slowly gains more and more control over, the demon, Anchanchu. Jack’s dreams that aren’t really dreams, but more like detailed memories that are not his own, become more vivid and harder to shake off. Eventually he and Anchanchu come to an agreement on a subconscious level. This is the first time Anchanchu has been able to form any kind of communication with his host during the many centuries past.

Dead shift completes Jack Gregory’s and Janet Price’s back story with an incredibly tense and suspenseful narrative that shows the demon inhabiting Jack’s mind is not at all what it first seemed.  As the surprising information regarding Anchanchu’s true nature increases it’s very satisfying to finally know how this, and some events during the preceding books, tie into to Jack and Janet’s involvement in the Rho Agenda. 

Exploring the concept of artificial intelligence technology is incredible and terrifying and the extremely dangerous belief that software and machines could be created with independent intelligence is taken a step further in this gripping story. Very skilfully written and thought through, with a substantial number of facts to give much credibility. A tight plot plus the addition of convincing and strong characters, make this a terrific action/sci-fi thriller. I love Richard Phillip’s writing style, with short chapters alternating between the different perspectives and storylines. MacLeod Andrews’ narration is just right and faultless as always, giving the narrative extra impact.

Author’s note: Many of the ideas in this novel on the containment of artificial intelligence are based upon Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

RichardPhillipsBorn in Roswell, New Mexico in 1956, Richard Phillips graduated from West Point in 1979, qualified as an Army Ranger, and served for several years as an officer in the United States Army. In 1989, he graduated with a Master of Science degree in Physics from the Naval Post Graduate School, completing his thesis work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He then spent three years as a Research Associate at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, before completing his tour of duty as an Army Officer. He now lives in Phoenix, with his lovely wife, Carol, where he develops simulation software for the U.S. military and writes science fiction.

Author links ~ Website, Blog, Twitter

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