Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book Review: Wired by Douglas Richards

A Fun Read…but Maybe Too Much Voila Science

Wired is story of brilliant genetic engineer Kira Miller, who is accused of a diabolical bioterror plot, and ex-special forces operative David Desh, who is tasked with finding and stopping her.

Let me jump right to the conclusion.  If you’re a fan of fast-paced thrillers with plenty of twists, you’ll like Wired.  The novel is one of Richards’ first books and follows a formula that he repeats later, i.e., a world-changing technology developed for altruistic reasons has a dark side and the protagonist(s) must find a way to make sure it is not used for evil.  But even so, Richards puts a great deal into this novel besides the pace and twists – a bit of romance, some thought-provoking science, and even some light philosophy (meaning of life, existence of God kinds of topics).

Several other reviews have mentioned the lack of depth in the characters, and true, the author does use what has become the techno-thriller stereotypes – a scientist years if not generations ahead of his/her peers and a special forces/military/spy type, also far superior to his peers in his combat/investigative skills.  Yes, this kind of combination is a bit trite, but it still makes for some fun reading from time to time.  And Richards does it well.

For me, the primary downside of this book was its use of what I’ve called voila science – something so far removed from current theory and research as to make anything possible.  Yes, Richards’ twists are very good, but if you step back and consider the possibilities arising from the technology, there are countless others that were also possible and equally surprising.  In effect, when anything is possible, nothing is surprising.  But giving Richards his due, he does pick an interesting path through the alternatives.

I would suggest that if you want a good introduction to Douglas Richards’ work, this is a great place to start.  Fun, fast, full of twists…and some material to think about as well.