2 out of 4 stars
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It is very hard to imagine what our descendants' lives will be like in one hundred years. The way we lead our lives has already transformed so much with the aid of technology in just the past fifteen years alone. Our phones, computers, laptops, and tablets help us communicate, organize, and even navigate. It's not easy to admit that it would be difficult to revert to how we lived just fifteen measly years ago because we have grown accustomed to our pocket computers helping us every step of the way. Living with technology is almost a necessity in the year 2018. Now, imagine what it would be like if the tables turned and technology made it harder for us to live our daily lives. This is the world Thomas Hill creates in the tale of Chip's World: Complex #31 and The Caretaker.
Hill's story begins in the year 2341, where we meet a freshly born Dean Haggerty. In this time, underground cities have developed to escape The Cyber Wars that took place topside about a decade before. The newborns of this time receive computer chips that monitor their health throughout their life to make it easier for them to live in the confined spaces underground, where air quality can quickly become toxic. Also for this reason, the people who live underground utilize birds in cages near the venting systems in their homes and hospitals to monitor the air quality.
After the beginning of the book featuring Mr. and Mrs. Haggerty finding the state of the art computer chip for their newborn Dean, Hill's story jumps about 30 years into the future where we find Dean to be a moderately successful computer programmer in the underground city of Chicallas. While working for a company named Cyber Network and Technology Agency (CYNATA) that is meant to further protect the underground cities, a rogue group of genetically enhanced humans called "sprinters" hack the facility and Dean is blamed for the slip-up. Instead of terminating his life for jeopardizing their work, his bosses send him to work in solitude miles away from home at a topside location called Complex #31 for the unforeseeable future. He is assigned to take care of the facility in hopes that others would be able to live there.
Dean finds out this job assignment was designed to be a quiet assassination attempt, as he is repeatedly put up against killer robots, secret agents, and even genetically modified critters that try to end his life while in the complex. He also finds out that CYNATA and his own government are involved in shady dealings which directly contradict their work to protect the people of the underground cities. By the end of the novel, he strives to find peace not only for everybody in his city, but within himself as well.
While I found this story to have a very interesting and different plot than others I have read recently, I found it difficult to understand the motives of the protagonist Dean Haggerty. In the first one hundred pages of the story, the company that he's worked with for many years uses him as a scapegoat for something that isn't even remotely his fault. He is sent away from his family for an indeterminable amount of time with no say in the matter, and yet, he just does what they tell him to do even after the first assassination attempt by one of the killer robots. Even when he is not receiving scheduled shipments of fuel to keep the complex that he's to care for up and running, he still believes that this company wouldn't betray him.
If I were to put myself in Dean's shoes, I don't think I would still be trying to help the people that were obviously trying to have me murdered. It's not until the very end of the story that he decides to redeem himself and save his family. It could be argued that Dean was fearful of what the underground government was capable of and didn't think he had anyone to help him, but it was very hard for me to suspend my disbelief. I believe it would have made more sense if Dean rioted against the corrupt government right off the bat, but the creative liberties are Thomas Hill's to uphold and deliver.
I noticed that the writing technique used to fill in plot holes was for the author to act as a narrator to describe why certain things were playing out the way they were. While questions in the plot are answered this way, it makes the meat and potatoes of the story become long, repetitive paragraphs and flashbacks instead of the characters witnessing discoveries. If the plot were to naturally unfold within the characters' actions and dialogue, it would benefit the overall flow, pacing, and delivery of the story.
Ultimately, I grant Chip's World: Complex #31 and The Caretaker by Thomas Hill a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. While the idea for the story was very creative and one of a kind, it did not seem like the story was professionally edited as I found quite a few grammatical errors. Hill could very well be on his way to becoming a successful sci-fi writer with these fantastic ideas, there's just a few steps for him to take before getting there. The character development, plot delivery, and editing could be improved, but the premise of the story is also very important, as it is generally the reason I pick up a book in the first place. I do hope Thomas Hill keeps writing and I look forward to seeing him grow as an author.
Chip’s World: Complex #31 and The Caretaker
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