One thing readers of science fiction often enjoy about the genre is being able to immerse themselves in the creation of an entirely new dystopian universe that fully comes to life from a writer’s well-thought-through imagination. With UNFETTERED JOURNEY, author Gary F. Bengier has produced just such a sci fi novel. Broken into several journeys (inward, outwards, backward, forward, up, down, and onward), the book almost seems like getting two or three books for the price of one.
As a scientific philosopher, Joe Denkensmith is intricately plugged into the state of his world. Plagued with questions that may not have answers and stressfully stuck in his research, Joe does something radical. He orders his Personal Intelligent Digital Assistant (PIDA) to execute the deletion of herself, leaving him and the NEST chip that is connected to his brain/ear less plugged in. This is a symbolic move with practical repercussions that heralds many life changes about to unfurl. The questions vexing Joe revolve around Artificial Intelligence and consciousness, specifically: can A.I. be/become conscious? Or are humans the only life forms possessing consciousness with an inherent ability to, not just simulate emotions, but actually to feel them; and to not just process algorithmic calculations, but to actually implement free will choice? Connected to these questions is the fact that for all A.I.’s helpfulness–from medbots and copbots to cleanerbots and matchlovebots–somehow a code worm has begun infecting some military robots, portending potential catastrophe down the line if the troubling trend is not nipped in the bud. Meanwhile, as a key thought-leader in his field, Joe decides to escape with his frustrated and befuddled self to a sabbatical at Lone Mountain College, a location/new era of life in which he eventually crosses paths and comes to the aide of radical Evie Joneson.
Without giving too much away of the plot, let’s just say that after meeting Evie, Joe Denkensmith’s somewhat dry, scholarly world will never be the same. Though vehement suppression endeavors to silence protests calling for a repeal of class-based leveling laws towards more egalitarianism, the amount of violence portrayed in UNFETTERED JOURNEY is blessedly useful without becoming overly gratuitous. Most intriguing is the section devoted to the Empty Zone, an outdoor correctional facility where those convicted of crimes against the state, for instance, are sentenced to try and survive without civilized society’s conveniences, such as electricity. And food that can be eaten without having to be hunted, foraged or grown from seed first.
Intelligently structured with an interesting juxtaposition between technology and humans attempting to balance living in head, heart, and body, Gary F. Bengier’s UNFETTERED JOURNEY is an epic expedition into the nature of consciousness, God, Reality, and the minds of Man.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader