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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard sci-fi at its absolute best
I'll say this upfront: I'm someone who loves thriller narratives, plenty of dialogue and action. Aeternum Ray (a name that makes sense as the story unfolds and starts to feel exactly right) only has minimal dialogue and has a reflective tone throughout it. It's written in the form of letters, and a one-way correspondence, at that. Yet this book is deeply imaginative and...
Published on 10 Nov 2012 by Steven O'Connor

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2.0 out of 5 stars interesting start, wasted
Initially I was interested by the concept of an AI that decided humanity needed to be freed from its physical form and went about creating that possibility. The narrative as a series of letters from dad was also initially intriguing. But it didn't develop well. The letters remained monotone. And dragged on. The world was imbued with middle class white christian or...
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard sci-fi at its absolute best, 10 Nov 2012
This review is from: Aeternum Ray (Paperback)
I'll say this upfront: I'm someone who loves thriller narratives, plenty of dialogue and action. Aeternum Ray (a name that makes sense as the story unfolds and starts to feel exactly right) only has minimal dialogue and has a reflective tone throughout it. It's written in the form of letters, and a one-way correspondence, at that. Yet this book is deeply imaginative and enticing from the outset, all in defiance of that reflective tone. So, yes, it has an experimental, post-modern edge, but never at the expense of the story.

I don't want to give too much a way, as this is a story that's best to read letting it unfold. But I will tell you this. Tracy R Atkins is tackling a pretty big theme. Probably the biggest, now that I think about it. He presents us with a future in which humanity has achieved immortality (that's no spoiler, it's in the opening sentence!). And then, via the letters from the narrator, he sets out to tell the readers how we all got there. And it's a highly convincing path from the present, leading directly from our world bursting with ipads, android phones and kindle readers.

He makes the whole thing very believable and I loved it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars interesting start, wasted, 5 April 2013
This review is from: Aeternum Ray (Paperback)
Initially I was interested by the concept of an AI that decided humanity needed to be freed from its physical form and went about creating that possibility. The narrative as a series of letters from dad was also initially intriguing. But it didn't develop well. The letters remained monotone. And dragged on. The world was imbued with middle class white christian or humanist type morals. Then the electronic entities were supposedly excited by their data being on specific planets and even in specific locations, so they could look out on the wonders. They supposedly went to restaurants even though they didn't have or need money or food and the restaurant owners got credit for their custom but they had nothing on which to spend it. They're only data without physical form (except a memory cube in a warehouse!). They've no eyes to see. No senses that cannot be fed by a data feed from cameras or just binary bits and bytes made up like for a computer game. I gave up after 153 pages (not quite half way) because I was bored. I no longer believed the premise. I didn't care what was happening. I'm not even tempted to look at the end of the book. Glad it was on free offer so I hadn't spent money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking book, 17 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Aeternum Ray (Kindle Edition)
great book really got me thinking about the future. tremendous points of view of what may happen in the future
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2.0 out of 5 stars dull and unimaginative, 31 Dec 2012
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chris (london, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Aeternum Ray (Kindle Edition)
I love to read about the technological singularity; it's a fascinating concept, and I have high hopes that something similar will actually come to pass in my lifetime. But despite this, Aeternum Ray really didn't hold my interest; I seriously struggled to make it past the midpoint, and finishing the book required a major effort.

There are numerous problems. First, the world of Aeternum (= the post-singularity VR world) seems rather poorly thought out and unconvincing. Besides the never-ending socializing and partying, what do people actually *do* with their infinite time in paradise ? Aeternum resembles a bland middle America suburb where we simply hang out with friends and family for eternity, popping out occasional children. Nice enough for a week or two, but would people really be content with that ? Sounds like a battery farm to me. There are hints of more interesting and exotic possibilities, but these are never properly explored.

The concept of a self-improving super-intelligent AI is fascinating, but is woefully under-developed here. Once the central AI character ("Ray") has attained human-level intelligence, it (he?) never seems to advance much further. Such a machine would be capable of repeatedly boosting its own intelligence, quickly attaining god-like powers - yet throughout the story, Ray never seems to achieve much more than a gifted human could have achieved in his place. Even the citizens of Aeternum don't seem interested in upgrading their own intelligence, or in trying to obtain abilities that weren't genetically predetermined. How dull.

Throughout the book, we're repeatedly told that Ray "worked with the citizens of the world to get them onto the same page". Ignoring the bland corporate language, exactly what does this mean ? Imagine that, a perfect world in which we all get along ... muslims and christian fundamentalists, communists and capitalists, republicans and democrats. I'd love to hear more about how Ray united the warring factions of the world using only his folksy charm, but I suspect the author hasn't got the faintest idea !

I found the technology in the book to be unconvincing. It's explained at one point that "a football field full of hardware was required to give rise to one digital human being from initial cell DNA generation through adulthood". This is extremely hard to swallow, given we're talking about tech 50 years in the future that has been designed and refined by a supposedly genius-level AI. Then again, we're expected to swallow anti-gravity and FTL communication a few decades later, which seem implausible in the other direction.

The book is presented as a series of letters from father to son, but the format just doesn't work. Each "letter" simply tells more of the unfolding story, one event after another in strict linear fashion. It might just have well been written as a conventional first-person narrative. This format is perhaps an attempt to disguise the fact that there's very little drama in the story. What's more, the writing is extremely clunky. The sentence structure is often awkward, and there are frequent jarring uses of contemporary 2012 language. Some random examples (there are many more) :

"The universe is large on an unimaginable scale, and to some extent so is the Galaxy."
"we were playing Russian roulette with the sky and no one knew when or where the gun was going to go off."
"I was thankful that her ass-hat of a husband Paul did not join her."
"All of this energy for baby making opened up the floodgates of people transcending."

In addition, the book is sprinkled with many "knowing" references to contemporary culture, such as references to iPhones and well-known modern movies, but these fall rather flat. If the author really is writing from the far future, why are there no references to events that happened after 2010 !? It's a transparent gimmick that doesn't work well.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea... I'm sure there's a great book to be written about humanity's "ascent" to post-singularity nirvana, but this definitely isn't it. Avoid.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for Singularity fans, 16 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Aeternum Ray (Paperback)
I highly recommend this book if you love all singularity related topics. Basically the book describes the development of the human civilization after the creation of a superior artificial intelligence. From an artistic viewpoint, I cannot describe this book as quality literature. But if you like the topic, it is a very enjoyable read.
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Aeternum Ray
Aeternum Ray by Tracy R. Atkins (Paperback - 30 Aug 2012)
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