As hinted by the word virtual in the title, this futuristic
thriller explores the possibility of living through
computers. Another dimension is added by considering the
philosophy of what this means for humanity and identity.
THE CHURCH OF VIRTUAL SAINTS by Michael Brookes is a
somewhat tongue-in-cheek title, but if a person's
consciousness could live on after their death, stored in a
computer and self-aware, soon enough someone would be
making money out of 'life after death'.
A jailed computer hacker in Britain has just started to
adjust to sporadic violence and hardship when he is offered
a chance to get out provided he works for a shadowy firm.
Dan Emmet doesn't need to think twice. He's no tough guy,
and this work is the only way he'll see a computer again.
Dan previously featured in a book called 'Faust 2.0' in
the 'Morton and Mitchell series' where he was trying to
find an online girlfriend and realised he was being led on
by an artificial intelligence computer. Now Morton, a
lawyer, makes him this offer and Dan can't wait to get back
to the internet.
A woman called Sarah Mitchell, also from the previous
story, is being held captive by a computer network owner
who is experimenting with storing a human personality in
computers. He needs Sarah's programming skills to help
create interfaces, because the personality has to be able
to interact with people in the real world to convince them
that it is still alive. On this basis he is building
a 'church' which presently consists mainly of servers,
tablets and armed guards. Give it time.
Through Dan's endeavours to free Sarah we learn about some
methods used by hackers, such as sending viruses to take
over personal computers around the world and cause those
computers to flood specific cell masts and servers with
requests, in order to let a spy message slip through in the
chaos. But Dan doesn't go unnoticed and the Church of
Virtual Saints is ready to retaliate. That's if some
Russian mobsters don't catch him first.
I admit to not getting into the philosophy debate but
otherwise had a good time with the lively story. Anyone who
read the first book would get more out of it, but THE
CHURCH OF VIRTUAL SAINTS can stand alone and will please SF
fans. Due to high levels of violence I recommend this
novella-length book for adult readers.
While experimenting with human consciousness Adam Samuels
discovers a being which transforms his life. It’s a
religious experience beyond anything possible in the
conventional world, and together the two lay down the plan
for humanity's ultimate quest - to become like God.
But some consider the development a threat to mankind
itself, and will stop at nothing to put an end to it.
Despite the destruction of the artificial intelligence known
as Misty Felice, GCHQ investigator Sarah Mitchell and hacker
Dan Emmet each continue to suffer from its twisted legacy.
The Church of Virtual Saints follows on from Faust 2.0.