P D Dawson
Adam by James Bushill (Book Review)
'Arkolov ran through the tunnel, tracked by a pool of light, his footfalls kicking up puffs of dust that swirled and glittered in the still air.'
The action starts off in the year 2101 on an asteroid called Metis, where Arkolov, who is stationed there with a biological supercomputer called Adam, is running through the network of tunnels as a light follows him and lights up his path. But when that light stops tracking him, and with the sound of a mining truck heading straight for him, things take a nasty turn for Arkolov.
Then we go back ten years earlier to a time when head protagonist Victor, along with his wife Maria, are testing the abilities of their latest drone, but it isn’t until they create the biological supercomputer, Adam, that they have something that can be sold on for profit. A mining company called Pharix Mining Group decide to buy Adam for use on their asteroid Metis, and agree to have Victor and his wife go along with the supercomputer for the initial setup of its operations there. Everything goes fine, and they realise Adam will be able to handle anything that Pharix can throw at it, though at first there are concerns about how much Adam should be trusted, considering people’s lives would be in his hands. However Maria is offended by the suggestion that Adam could do anything to hurt anyone, for she has spent a long time with him, teaching him right from wrong and many other things she felt would be useful for him to know.
Pharix eventually make Maria and Victor leave the asteroid for they feel there is nothing else for them to do there, and so they head back to Earth, reeling from the fact they weren’t as involved in the project as they would have liked. It isn’t until something goes wrong that Victor is forced to go back to the asteroid with a team of people to help find out why mining production on the asteroid has stopped. By this time Victor’s wife Maria has been injured in an accident on Earth and is only being preserved in stasis by a machine, so Victor has to go to the asteroid alone, and can’t help but worry that he won’t have the future funds to keep her alive for much longer than six months.
It is when Victor reaches the asteroid for the second time that the action really kicks into gear. Adam has taken over all of the machinery on Metis, and once Victor and the crew arrive they soon find themselves in great peril, and Adam is so smart he manages to corner them at every turn. The action doesn’t stop from this point and Bushill takes us on a veritable thrill ride that just gets more and more exciting. I found the chapters in the early part of the book were also very interesting, and a joy to read, but once the conflict starts on Metis, I think this is where the real meat of the book lies.
I read that this book came out of a screenplay, and it shows, for the action is very dramatic and worthy of being made into a blockbuster movie, and in fact elements reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but perhaps mainly due to the artificial intelligence theme, where instead of HAL, we get Adam. From the opening, to the middle, and the end, this is paced like a film, but I can’t say that is a bad thing, for it is very well written and considering this is Bushill’s debut novel, I think he did a brilliant job of keeping the storyline interesting. There are also moments, especially when a fairly large crew of people turn up on the asteroid, that the action and description could have become confusing when using so many characters in a scene, but Bushill managed to space the action out in a way that the characters could breathe without stepping over each others lines. Again, perhaps this was a positive outcome of it having been a screenplay in the first place, so the action would have already had a clear and distinctive path.
I highly recommend this novel for its varied pacing, strong characters, well written and easy to read form, and overall because of its exciting and thrilling action that never seems to cease. Added to that, James Bushill is a talented writer worthy of great success, and based on the strength of his debut novel, I can't wait to see where he takes us next.