cover image Society of the Mind: A Cyberthriller

Society of the Mind: A Cyberthriller

Eric L. Harry. HarperCollins Publishers, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017694-5

In his new techno-thriller, the author of Arc Light transports readers to an island in the near future where robots build robots and a virtual reality chamber includes an ""exoskeleton"" suit to allow you to feel simulated heat and cold, flowers and rocks. Harvard psychology professor Laura Aldrich is summoned to the estate of eccentric billionaire Joseph Gray. Her task is to diagnose possible mental illness in his supercomputer, which, like Gray's robots, has been constructed from neural networks and patiently taught physical and mental skills. Is Gray a mad genius bent on ruling (or destroying) the world? Or will he advance civilization beyond our wildest dreams? While preparing to divert a doomsday asteroid plummeting toward Earth, the humans in Harry's novel must cope with insurgent robots and face the consequences of Gray's brilliance. Laura and her laptop computer explore the island, facing danger from the dense jungle and attacks by rogue robots as she (and we) are introduced to artificial intelligence, robotics computer viruses and virtual reality. The plot, while primarily a vehicle to explicate technological advances, is nevertheless compelling. Like Crichton and H.G. Wells, Harry writes stories just this side of science fiction that entertain roundly while they explore questions of scientific and social import. $60,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperAudio release; author tour; foreign rights sold to the U.K., Japan, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands; U.K., translation, dramatic rights: Jay Garon. (June)