Thursday, October 14, 2021

Book Review: The Insecure Mind of Sergei Kraev

The year is 2100. The lack of trust that characterized the early Internet era is long behind us. Mathematical proof ensures neural implants can't be hacked, and the Board of Reality Overseers blocks false information from spreading.

When undergraduate Sergei Kraev, who dreams of becoming a professor, is accepted into the Technion's computer science graduate program, he throws himself into his research project: making it possible for neural implants to transmit information directly to the brain. If he succeeds, he'll earn a full professorship. But Sergei falls under the influence of Sunny Kim, the beautiful and charismatic leader of a K-pop dance cult. Sergei believes in Sunny's good intentions and wants to protect her from critics, leading him to perform a feat of engineering that leaves billions of brains vulnerable to attack.

With the clock ticking towards catastrophe, can Sergei see the truth about Sunny and undo what he's done?

This debut novel by enginner turned author Eric Silberstein delivers a very powerful and prophetic warning. Like the sci-if classics from the 50's, 60's and 70's, his tale mixes advances in technology with reflective commentary on topics of the present day world. From a divided United States to the line between opinions and facts to the power of personality and image to the dangers a pandemic that can spread at an inconceivable rate, Silberstein hits upon themes that are front and center in our world today.

I found that his characters come across as both realistic and flawed. They love and hurt. They are fragile yet hopeful. I could see their actions and reactions as linear, consistent and true as they move across the years.

The narrative format worked for me as well, starting first with an event and then building the back history that gets the world to that point. At first it might seem a bit off-track but have trust that the author is weaving a tapestry to comes to a full pay-off in the latter half of the book. In the end, it is a story that will leave readers thinking long after the final page.

Highly recommended.

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