Review: “Wired,” Douglas E. Richards

Pros: An interesting take on high intelligence
Cons: Some of the hammered-in details weren’t ones I could agree with
Rating: 4 out of 5

Wired is the first book in a series by Douglas E. Richards. In it, Kira, a biology prodigy, kidnaps a man, David Desh, who’s been sent in turn to capture her. She’s learned to amp up the power of the human brain to stratospheric heights, but only for an hour at a time–and with some unwanted side effects. Just to make her even more of a mark, in one of her amped-up sessions she developed a tonic that doubles the lifespan of a human being. Amped-Kira decided that David is the one person in all of this she might be able to convince and to gain the help of, while everyone else just wants to put her in a cage and harvest her inventions. David’s been told that she’s a terrorist planning to kill nearly the entire species with a targeted Ebola virus, so he has a lot of reason not to believe her side of the story.

 

I felt the will he/won’t he of Desh’s loyalties was reasonable. Usually such things go on way too long past the point where the person should understand who the good and bad guys are, but it just isn’t as easy this time, and I like that. It’s genuinely not as obvious to him who’s doing what.

There are two basic side effects to the one-hour super-intelligence drug. First, massive munchies. Second, sociopathy/extreme selfishness. For most of the book it’s billed as an inevitable side effect of high intelligence, which I found off-putting. It does become less straightforward than that eventually, however.

In some of Richards’ other books I’ve found his enthusiastic dives into subjects to read like soapboxes. In Wired, it comes off less as though the author is lecturing to the reader. However, he still does enjoy getting into his subjects, so you do need to be a fan of more mentally-exploratory SF as opposed to action SF. I think Wired reads more professionally than some of his books. It’s always good to see an author grow in talent and skill!

While this is the more exploratory sort of SF, that spends much of its time discussing and expanding upon interesting possibilities, there is action here and there. David used to be Special Ops, and someone has usurped a portion of the military to send after David and Kira.

There is a bit too much “ooooh Kira” love in here. She’s not only beyond a genius IQ, she’s beautiful and incredibly charming to boot. It’s weird, though, because usually when this happens it’s because the character is the same gender as the author and is acting as a stand-in for how the author wishes he or she could be. In this case, given that each character is very superior in their own way, and it makes sense for extreme people to come together for this, I think it’s reasonable. (And you won’t hear me say that very often!)

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