“So what’s it about?”
“Artificial intelligence and what existence really means.”
The eyebrows quirked. “Just a little light reading then?”
I shrugged. “Sure. Let’s go with that.”
“Where’d you hear of it?”
That was an easier question to answer. “I’m part of a blog tour for it. We are offered books to read, and when we find one that interests us, we request a free copy. They send it. We read and give our opinion.”
“So what’s your opinion of… what was it called again?”
Again, an easy answer. “Synapse. By Steven James. But I don’t have an opinion yet. I kind of have to read it first.”
So I did.
Note: links are likely affiliate links–no extra cost to you… small commission for me.
3 Simple Things You Should Know about Synapse
He’s a master of words–and points of view. Of tenses. Where most authors find one and stick to it, Steven James weaves several into a perfect web of connections that somehow manage not to short-circuit your brain. If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d love a book full of first, second, and third-person points of view, as well as past and present tenses, I’d have laughed. Especially at the thought of them all in one book.
But true to form, James doesn’t just pull them off, he does it in a way that makes you feel like it couldn’t have been done any other way.
So what are those three “simple” things?
I’m calling them simple because I’m keeping my review of them as succinct as possible.
- James knows characterization and story. As far-fetched as this plot would have seemed even fifteen or twenty years ago, he makes me believe it not only can but will happen someday. He not only suspended my disbelief as I read the book–but also of what could be.
- This is no mindless thriller that keeps you hopping without anything to feed your soul. I’ve complained a lot about Thomas Nelson this year–about their seeming deviation from strong faith elements in their books. Well… Synapse gave me hope that they haven’t abandoned solid Christian fiction after all. This book has such deep, rich faith-filled elements that I know I’ll need to read it another time or two in order to really and fully grasp all that James wired into his story.
- It’s almost impossible for me to talk about this book without giving away cool things that only the reader can discover for him or herself. So, I’ll just say this. I loved it.
Recommended for lovers of light speculative fiction (it’s not heavy sci-fi that you can’t follow if you aren’t of a scientific/nerdy turn of mind) and for lovers of well-crafted stories that make you think without turning preachy. James did a beautiful job of balancing all sides of various issues without seeming to come off as wishy-washy.
Author: Steven James
Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but what they believe. Is hope real for them, or merely an illusion?
Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon.
But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions that Artificials were never meant to ask.
Deftly weaving suspense and intrigue into a rich, resonant tale that explores faith and what it really means to be human, Steven James offers us a glimpse into the future and into our own hearts.
Synapse is an unforgettable, gripping story of dreams shattered, truth revealed, and hope reborn.
About the Author
Steven James is the critically acclaimed, national bestselling author of sixteen novels. His work has been optioned by ABC Studios and praised by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, the New York Journal of Books, and many others.
His pulse-pounding, award-winning thrillers are known for their intricate storylines and insightful explorations of good and evil. When he’s not working on his next book, he’s either teaching master classes on writing throughout the country, trail running, or sneaking off to catch a matinee.
More from Steven
“James is a pro at creating suspense.”
“stimulating tale…thrilling story of greed and corruption”
Publishers Weekly STARRED review
Read my op-ed on robots and faith in the New York Times
I grew up reading and loving science fiction stories. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of artificial intelligence, but as I’ve thought about it over the years, I’ve realized that our lives are not based just on what we know, but also what we believe. So, I started asking myself, “What would the world look like if machines developed artificial belief?” Within a few decades, advanced AIs might very well have consciousness and self-awareness. At that point, what will they choose to believe about the meaning of life, God, and the afterlife?
All of these questions were in my mind as I wrote Synapse, a story that takes place 30 years from now in a world very much like our own. This is a cautionary tale with implications that are both chilling and revealing and I think that if you like suspense, you’ll love this near-future thriller.
Learn more at stevenjames.net
Facebook and Twitter: @readstevenjames
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