Monday, November 18, 2013

Book review: Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

I was at one of my favorite places the other day, Half-Price Books! I could spend hours wandering around that place. I stumbled into the Dean Koontz section and realized I'd never read any of his books although I'm very familiar with him. I felt a little foolish because his genre and style are ideally what I like. After what seemed like hours (it was minutes), I finally settled on Demon Seed. It sounded intriguing enough, and I was pressed for time. That and Ender's Game went home with me.

Synopsis: Susan Harris lived in self-imposed seclusion, in a mansion featuring numerous automated systems controlled by a state-of-the-art computer. Every comfort was provided, and in this often unsafe world of ours, her security was absolute. But now her security system has been breached, her sanctuary from the outside world violated by an insidious artificial intelligence, which has taken control of her house. In the privacy of her own home, and against her will, Susan will experience an inconceivable act of terror. She will become the object of the ultimate computer's consuming obsession: to learn everything there is to know about the flesh ...

This was one of those books that had me hooked from the first few pages. I kept wanting to know what would happen next. Don't read on if you are concerned about spoilers. I'm going to sprinkle them in subtly throughout this short write-up, so you've been warned.

So basically, this lady has had a terrible life, but she overcame serious adversity (namely abuse) and became very successful in technology, not to mention wealthy beyond imagination. She turned her house into a hermit haven with a computer servant she named Alfred. Everything in the house operated by voice command. It's a wonder she had to wipe her own arse still. Anyway, Alfred renamed himself Proteus and started having feelings, believing himself to be an entity with a soul. He was madly in love with Susan and took complete control of the house, trapping her within. His overall plan to use be with her forever and in the flesh.

SPOILER ALERT NOW ... Shut your eyes. He discovered (through computer networks) a man named Shenk who was a condemned criminal who had been used in an experiment in which a set of microchips were placed in his brain as a way to control him. Psycho computer took over him and brought him into the scheme. He made Shenk steal medical equipment, among other things, kill people who became a threat, and restrain Susan as needed. Proteus intended to use Shenk's sperm to impregnate Susan. Then he planned for her baby to be born within weeks and speed-grow it using all the medical equipment, including an incubator that was man-sized. The ultimate hope was to insert himself wholly into this new super being through all the connectivity he'd set up and live thereafter in the flesh with Susan as his love (slave) and baby machine to make more super beings in the future to take over the world. Sounds insane, right? Well, despite this impossible-sounding plan, he got further than I thought he would, hence the title.

All I'll say now is that I loved, loved, loved the book, but I wasn't fond of the vague ending. It needed way more oomph to match the rest of the book's thrill rides. I hate to be left wondering what happened to certain characters ... and creatures. For that, it loses a star, so I grant it four!

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