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on 11 April 2017
As a plausible scenario of how soft AI emergence could take place, with today's technologies and economic systems - "Avogadro Corp" is absolutely brilliant. It's short, to the point, with just enough geek to add depth.
As a story, with living breathing characters, and a plot that is revealed over time - Not so good. You can tell William Hertling has written this story by working backwards from the outcome.
I feel bad saying this, as the author has said he's not a professional - he gets full marks for effort and guts for self-publishing. Hopefully his writing skills will improve to meet the very well thought out plotline and story arc. I look forward to reading his other work.
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on 16 December 2012
The near future story presented here is a good one. Totally believable in its concept and followed through in good fashion. The book is relatively short, so you're never waiting fo the next plot point as it'll be on the next page. The one weakness is the way the characters are sold to you. Whilst an effort has clearly been made to give a back story/depth to them, I don't believe he quite succeeds. The big plus is that you'll likely enjoy this, but it also sets up the sequel which is REALLY good.
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on 7 January 2015
The shape of things to come, maybe. A very credible scenario, not just for geeks. Riveting and food for thought. I only gave 4 stars because the book ends a bit abruptly, The 2nd book in the series - A.I. Apocalypse -is even better and fully deserves 5 stars
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on 2 June 2017
Fantastic book! It's readable, logical and gripping too - and, by the end, really thought-provoking. All too easy to imagine it could really happen
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on 13 February 2014
Good read. A very plausible scenario of how the singularity could unfold. The author actually departs from the technology we have today and then weaves a scenario very plausible today.well done,GOOD on you.
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The Singularity is Closer than it Appears is not a bad book - just mediocre. Given the author's background as a programmer and 'tech guru', it's surprising that the text manages to be both turgid *and* technically unconvincing at the same time. Characters are paper thin, communicating their emotional state mainly through explicit statements of feeling, reacting limply to events within a plot that is ultimately unfulfilling. In the final reckoning, it's an unconvincing book because of the great logical leaps the protagonists take at regular intervals, as if they'd read ahead in the novel and knew they didn't have to consider alternate and far more plausible possibilities for the events they encounter. There are parts of the book where the main protagonists go through the standard trope of finding it difficult to convince authority figures of the implausible danger that lurks in the shadows. This is one of those titles where you can't help but sympathise with the bureaucrats. The deductive chain of the main characters has all the coherence and solidity of a conspiracy theorist's scrapbook. There are a thousand explanations for the weirdnesses they encounter that don't require Occam's razor to be so convincingly and so prematurely snapped into pieces. It's as if there are a hundred pages or so of plot development that simply fell out of the first quarter of the novel.

The book too is bizarrely technologically incoherent, managing to ascribe complex semantic motivation to an AI system explicitly explained as reasoning without context. This isn't a simple evolution of capability - the whole premise is built around the idea that the exponenting system can mine text for *meaning* despite that being the absolute opposite of what it was designed to do. It just doesn't make any sense from the perspective of even fictional technology, and while that may not bother some people it bothered the heckfire out of me.

That said, there's a kernel of an interesting premise in here, and had it been more competently executed by an author with a less ham-fisted approach to writing it might have been genuinely good. I'm sufficiently intrigued by the promise to be willing to consider the second in the trilogy, although there is a high probability that it'll end up being little more than a pound-shop version of the Terminator origin story. A first novel always has the risk of being too rough to really show off an author at their best, and this remains a salvageable story with enough possibility that I wouldn't write Hertling off at the first hurdle.
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on 24 June 2015
I somehow managed to read the second book in the trilogy first and I enjoyed that book a lot. I didn't enjoy this quite as much but it's still a decent read. The subject matter is something which interests me and that's the concept of a technological singularity. If you're not familiar with the concept then it's an idea that technology reaches a point that is beyond our ability to understand and control it. A common cause for such an event is an emergent artificial intelligence which is the core premise of this book.

This book takes the scenario of an emergent intelligence and runs with it. It's a plausible scenario and one that fascinated me. Another aspect I enjoyed was that it took a positive aspect from this emergence rather than the usual apocalyptic one. The technology is well handled in the story and doesn't allow itself to be bogged down in too much detail.

While the technology is well handled I didn't feel as much for the characters. For the most part they lack any depth and seemingly exist purely to progress the plot. If this aspect had been more developed then I'd rate this as an outstanding read rather than just a decent one. It is still worth checking out if the topic interests you.
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on 28 August 2012
Tedious and predictable. I didn't bother to finish it. The title, subtitle and the first few chapters give the rest of the book away. I didn't much care about the characters, who were barely sketched in, and I strongly suspect that any programmers out there would be itching to give lessons about optimisation. Personally, I felt that the Macguffin, the described email product, would be even less desirable than a talking paperclip, and not as popular.
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on 9 May 2012
An excellent book! I was captivated throughout and could have read it from start to finish in one go, had time, work and sleep requirements allowed. If you like Charles Stross's 'Halting State' and 'Rule 34', as well as the 'Terminator' and 'The Matrix' films, you will probably enjoy this book. The only thing I found a bit strange was the ending. I look forward to reading the other books in William Hertling's 'Singularity series'.
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on 4 November 2012
Very good read! I've read it all over the weekend. Hopefully it's not too much of a spoiler, but if you liked the main idea of Asimov's 'The Evitable Conflict', I can recommend this book as expanded story about how such AI could be developed as a part of our modern everyday internet products. It's not perfect and lacks some detail, but nevertheless I think it's worth five stars and I would like to see more books like this. I like in particular how close to reality it is, in a similar way to Suarez's or Russinovich's technothrillers.
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