This is actually a 3.5-star review but I don’t have an image for it.
Contrary to author Mark Alpert’s claim in his note at the end of the book, The Six is most definitely science fiction. Its essential premise and technologies are based on the states of science and technology in the mid-2010s, and it relies heavily on projections of the science and tech into the future, making it “hard” SF.
There are two core story-lines: the ability of doctors to map all of the synaptic connections in a human brain—the “connectome,” although Alpert never uses the term—and artificial intelligence. In this story, technology has advanced enough that it is not only possible to map a person’s connectome, it’s possible to copy it into a vast array of “neuromorphic” computer circuits which, like the brain, can rearrange themselves at will as the computer (or computerized person) learns and experiences new things. That technology is now ready for trial. Unfortunately, the test will kill the person whose brain is scanned and mapped. To get around that major ethical problem, six volunteer teenagers, all suffering from terminal illnesses—mainly cancer or Duchenne muscular dystrophy—are chosen to be the “Pioneers.” If successful, their minds will be recreated inside hulking, 600 pound robots whose shells protect the computer/brain inside.
At the same time, the father of protagonist Adam Armstrong (no symbolism in that name, is there?) has developed a fully-conscious artificial intelligence. He’s not alone: the Russians are doing it too. Unfortunately (of course), the AI, called “Sigma,” escapes its lab and goes on a rampage against all of humanity, whom it views as its competition. The Pioneers are (of course) the only ones who can defeat Sigma.
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