The next Indie book on my reading list was Roko’s Basilisk, by Michael Blackbourn. This was a quick read that I blitzed through in a couple of days. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss an update, I enjoyed Roko’s Basilisk so much that I actually ended up buying and reading the sequel too, so you get a two for one this week!
Here’s what I had to say about Roko’s Basilisk in my review on Goodreads:
Roko’s Basilisk is a very intriguing novella based around a central concept. The themes are near future, with AI on the brink of a breakthrough and the author does a great job of painting the world around which this is all happening, with enough in common with today’s world that it felt chillingly plausible. I don’t want to say too much more about the story for fear of spoiling things.
I loved the writing style and characters, it really drew me in, although it took a couple of pages to get used to the timeline jumping around. My only complaint would be the length. The book ends abruptly and certainly left me wanting more (which is a good thing). It’s not a deal breaker as the book was only $1, but I would have loved to see this central concept expanded upon. It was intriguing enough to make me immediately downloaded the sequel, which I am happy to say is even better and also longer.
I’ll talk a little more about the story here without going too far into spoiler territory. Some of the concepts are pretty in depth, particularly around A.I. and computer simulations. I am a sucker for this particular field and have researched it a great deal for my own stories, so it was fascinating to see which pieces Michael had picked up on for his story. It is written in such a way that I think any reader could enjoy it, but I feel like I could appreciate Michaels attention to detail because of my existing knowledge in the area.
This novella also helped to remind me why it is so important that I pay for the Indie books that I am reading for my #YearOfIndie, despite generous offers from several authors to send me review copies. I was a little surprised by the short length of this novella, but then I reminded myself it only cost $1 CAD, which made me feel much better about it. The writing style and concepts totally hooked me, which is part of the reason I was so sad when it ended. I think $1 is the perfect price point for this story, it’s a great introduction into the series.
Speaking of which, it totally made me go and immediately down the sequel, Roko’s Labyrinth.
Here is what I had to say in my review of Roko’s Labyrinth on Goodreads:
Roko’s Labyrinth takes the concepts from Roko’s Basilisk and just runs with them. Instead of focusing on what happens when the AI’s are launched the author jumps forward in time to when the AI’s are already running amok in ‘the wild’. Story wise I think this is a great choice, plenty of AI based stories focus on that pivotal moment when AI is awakened, before everything falls apart, but few are willing to consider how mankind would fare if the worst happened.
As with Roko’s Basilisk there are a lot of advanced concepts in use here, but the author does a great job of making them both accessible for readers who may be less familiar while still keeping them accurate for anyone that has a more technical knowledge. The author avoids ‘Macguffins’, all the technology mentioned in the book feels totally believable (sometimes scarily so). The characters are also genuine and likeable, even the ‘villains’ have clear motivations and aren’t just acting evil because the story requires it. There are also some great twists and turns along the way to keep you on the edge of your seat.
So it’s pretty safe to say I enjoyed both the books this week. So far so good!
Next up on my #YearOfIndie is Idyllic Avenue by Chad Ganske, who accepted the challenge for some shameless self promo when i asked for Indie recommendations. If you’d like to follow his lead throw your suggestions in the comments below.