Nanotime

Bart Kosko, Author
Bart Kosko, Author Avon Books $24 (311p) ISBN 978-0-380-97466-5
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 12/01/1961
Cyberpunk composer, professor of electrical engineering and chief exponent of the AI field known as ""fuzzy logic,"" witty West Coast media-darling Kosko spices his first novel with a gaudy array of new technologies, from artificial wombs that can tailor a fetus's genes at its parents' whim to miniaturized computers able to replace a human brain. The year is 2030, and John Grant has invented a process to transform water into virtually cost-free hydrogen fuel. Unfortunately for him, half the world's governments, dependent on rapidly decreasing oil reserves, want control of his invention, while the oil-producing governments want the secret of his process destroyed. Naturally, neither side is particularly interested in maintaining Grant's health. The action is fast and furious as our hero fights off attacks by secret agents, some of them supposedly on his side, while the planet teeters towards a third world war. Kosko's abilities to plot and develop characters aren't equal to his skills at the speculative blackboard. The only partially developed character, Grant, is thoroughly unpleasant, self-centered and self-righteous, while his adventures consist of a series of barely sketched encounters, most of which follow some variation of the same plot: a spy, soldier, head of state or scientist first tries to reason with someone else, then either kills him or is killed by him. Still, it's hard to dislike a novel that lets its protagonist commune with his own computer-generated, computer-enhanced John Stewart Mill (aka ""Jism"") while he dodges bullets and rescues life on Earth as we know it (only much, much cooler). (Oct.)
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