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Insidious [Paperback]

Michael McCloskey
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.00
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Book Description

8 Jan 2010
Leaked stories of strange new rules and codes of behavior indicate something's gone sour in the deep-space retreats of the super-rich corporate executives. Some say it's only the eccentricities of the powerful leaders of capitalistic society. But others speak of dark, twisted rituals, human slavery, and illegal experiments in banned technologies.

Bren Marcken is a robot handler and strategist on a special team of the United Nations Space Force formed to occupy the corporate space stations and seize their technological secrets. To accomplish the mission, he's been authorized to field artificial intelligences that he considers just as dangerous as the enemy.

Chris Adrastus is an aggressive, young executive whose careful machinations have carried him to a high position at the powerful European Union company, Vineaux Genomix. Instead of finding satisfaction, he's become disillusioned with what he discovers at the top of the executive world.

Aldriena Niachi is a covert operative of Black Core, a Brazilian software company with a global sphere of influence. She's about to find out what Black Core will do for a technological lead. Do some kinds of knowledge come at inordinate cost, even for a super-corporation?

Frequently Bought Together

Insidious + Ingenious: 3 + Industrious
Price For All Three: 23.15

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  • Ingenious: 3 5.69
  • Industrious 6.58

Product details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: (8 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440192529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440192524
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 20 x 12.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,586,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael McCloskey is a software engineer in Silicon Valley afflicted with recurring dreams of otherworldly creatures, mysterious alien planets and fantastic adventures.

Product Description

About the Author

Michael McCloskey is a software engineer in Silicon Valley afflicted with recurring dreams of otherworldly creatures, mysterious alien planets, and fantastic adventures. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought the first book in this trilogy on the strength of reading the author's "The Trilisk Ruins", and am reviewing them all together, as they are just three strands of the same story. If you read only one you won't fully appreciate it - indeed, the individual volumes don't work as well on their own, either not being properly resolved or not having a proper beginning. Thankfully, as with The Trilisk Ruins they're dirt cheap.

They appear to be set earlier in the same universe as The Trilisk Ruins - the authoritarian government is present here too in a somewhat less overbearing form, and personal and military technology is similar too. While these books appear to be set earlier, I believe that they were written later. The writing is definitely more mature, with less hammy dialogue and more time taken to make the characters into people, and there were no immediately obvious plot holes.

The three books largely run in parallel, with each one finishing a little later than its predecessor, each telling the story from a different point of view. It's a surprising device, but one that I found worked very well. It leaves the reader wondering at the end of the first and second volumes, but with good solid conclusions in later books to fill in the gaps that were left. Obviously this means you should read them in order: Insidious first, then Industrious, and finally Ingenious.

While I have rated the series as a whole with four stars out of five, there are large differences between the volumes. The first is by far the worst, consisting too much of rather repetitive action sequences, but it is rescued by the second and third volumes which are much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I continue to enjoy this authors work. He's a new favourite and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series and his new book in the Trelisk series when it comes out too.

Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars clever 12 July 2013
By Kit
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Liked the read(s) ... but was kinda bored before starting Book 3!

Not a lot else to say without giving the plot(s) away!
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By Keith
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very imaginative about the evolution and use of technology - and a pretty good story too, with realistic characters.
But you do need to read the three books together - they are not consecutive stories but the same story from a different viewpoint.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the sequel! 27 Feb 2010
By T. O'Neill - Published on
Insidious is a real page-turner: it has a fascinating central mystery whose resolution really took me by surprise and, if that's not enough to keep you reading, plenty of suspense. I just *had* to find out how it all turned out.

The book has an interesting angle on A.I.s with super-human intelligence. It expertly portrays the visceral fear of A.I.s taking over, the dilemma of the protaganists who feel like they have no choice but to use them, and how they feel like they were walking a tightrope when they did so.

The battle sequences are taught and compelling, and do a good job of conveying the "fog or war."

Like I said, I really liked the book and look forward to more work from the author. Still there were a few things I didn't like....

- The prologue. I don't think it really added anything, and the writing there felt less accomplished than the rest of the book. It felt like he was trying too hard to impress with flowery language. I would rather he had led off with his strong foot--action or mystery--and use flashbacks to cover anything important that got skipped.

- Explanations or insights into Aldriena's psychology. The flashbacks to her youth seemed to encourage a too-simple interpretation of her use of her own sexuality. I'd rather the book had just presented her as a fact, without trying to explain her. Better to leave her mysterious and let the reader fill in the missing details.

- Descriptions of sexual positions and acts, which felt like they detracted from the main story arc. It's enough to know the characters had sex, without going into the details. Of course a lot of sci fi is guilty of this.

- The occasional clunky turn of phrase, such as the use of "incarnate" to mean "in person." Given how much importance the characters give to the difference between virtual and real meetings, it would have made sense if they'd developed slang for the distinction. For example "meat space."

Still these complaints pale compared to the overall experience of the book, which was a real pleasure. If I could, I would give it 4.5 stars.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, creative Sci-Fi about AI 3 Feb 2010
By Michael George Goll - Published on
A fascinating sci-fi story based on a novel premise of links--circuitry that allows the brain to interact with computers and AI cores which almost seem... human. The plot revolves around some strange happenings on corporate space stations.

The various characters, Aldriana, a crack secret operative, Bren, an AI handler, Chris, an ambitious exec, an Meridian, an AI robot that are drawn together to find exactly what is happening out in space.

It was an enjoyable read that built to an unexpected ending where you find out that there's something more than deep space corporate shenanigans going on. I look forward to more from this new writer.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Start and Military SF 21 July 2010
By M. Saunders - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just finished this book on my Kindle and it was a great value. Kept me interested from the start. Never got boring. It was a little hard to follow at first but the characters soon developed and kept my interest. A good book if you like SF and Military fiction. It all made since to me and had an interesting viewpoint about AI's that I had not seen before. My only real complaint is it left me hanging. I need the next one.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like cyberpunk? AIs? Give this a try. 13 Mar 2012
By WiltDurkey - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
(I've read all 3 books in the trilogy - consider this to cover them all - some spoilers at end)

INSIDIOUS starts out with a bang, and quite a bang it is.

Imagine translating fantasy's standard demon summoning rites into the 21st century, carried out by the space-faring armies of Western countries. The demons are AIs, used to operate autonomous combat robots. Like demons, they have, and will, take any opportunity to turn on their masters. But they are so very, very, useful. And needed, as the Chinese and the West are in a new cold war.

However, it seems that the AIs have met their match when they encounter an unexpected type of robots while raiding a space station. Essentially, Insidious is told from the point of view of the AIs' handlers.

On a side note, the handling protocols for the AIs are quite interesting and cleverly thought out - way above the usual cyberpunk blather.

We have some not entirely inspired or useful sex scenes, except that not all is what it seems in one instance. Quite a bit cleverer than it looked at first.

INDUSTRIOUS continues from the point of view of two Chinese protagonists, in the Divine Space Force.

McCloskey likes to switch perspectives - he is still not 100% there, but deserves big kudos for trying to put us in the shoes of the other side. Overall, Industrious comes off pretty well - the Chinese also use secret AIs, but have different tactics from the Westerners. The motivations of the girl aren't always super clear - from playing hard to get to wanting to do the right thing by her love.

What makes things interesting is that the events are simultaneous with Industrious, but with a different viewpoint. So you are gradually filled in on events that were only partially revealed in the first book. This works quite well, but it can be bit confusing too. Rashomon-like, for movie geeks.

(some spoilers below)

INGENIOUS - the third party's point of view.

About half way through Insidious we learned that the robots were in fact cyborg aliens. This is their story.

Switching to telling the story from the point of view of a first contact alien race is very, very, ambitious. The aliens have a consistent and logical culture and worldview that explains their interactions with the humans. Again, the events are mostly in the same time as the other two books, just different points of view.

This part could have probably been trimmed quite a bit. Especially, especially, the combat scenes. How many times do we need to be told how many "cutter molecules" are being fired on which target? Many, apparently. And after a while, keeping track of which space station is being attacked by whom and trying to tie it back to books 1 & 2 becomes quite confusing. This is where some editorial guidance would have been welcome.

At the same time, we are left in the dark on just how the aliens managed the journey here. And, to be honest, the aliens' characters are not fully fleshed out. However, and my intention is not to damn with faint praise, it was always going to be very hard to pull it off and it was quite a good try. The aliens are just very very different, quite originally and inventively so. No anthropomorphic Vulcans or Klingons here, which makes it difficult to just slap on a variation on a recognizable Earth culture and call it success.

Ingenious is really both the weakest part of the overall story but also what sets it apart. By that time, you have to wonder why the Westerners and Chinese don't just nuke the space stations - the situation seems quite grim. Possibly because they don't know if that would start a nuclear war with each other?

p.s. I really found the cover art quite clever. Reminds me of the evil AI in Wall-E (the Pixar movie), which I believe was a reference to The Black Hole, a Disney movie of the 80s with another evil robot. However, with all 3 books having the same cover and all titles beginning with I, I found it extremely hard to remember which book was which. Comment
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Multiple viewpoints leads to confusion 27 Nov 2011
By HaloJonesFan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the attempt at multiple, concurrent viewpoints. Unfortunately, the result was that the story kept cutting away from interesting characters to boring, passive ones. I also felt that the AI subplot introduced in the free-sample prologue turned out to be more of a red herring than anything else, which was disappointing because that's what got me to buy the book. (well, that and seeing the cover art in a banner ad.) I enjoyed reading this book but I don't think I'll buy anything else.
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