Published: 20th November 2017
Publisher: Not a Pipe Publishing
Author: Benjamin Gorman
The Digital Storm is an ingenious science fiction retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest set in the near future inside a bank’s intranet. Prosper, the analogue to Shakespeare’s Prospero, is an artificial intelligence program who has been banished to a quarantined area in the bank’s system, and there he’s created an amazing virtual island home for himself, his daughter Memoranda, and the monstrous virus Caliban. Now, with the help of Ariel and the other programs he’s invented on the island, he’s conjured a massive digital attack on the bank’s system to entice the members of the board, the very humans who exiled him, to enter the system so he can seek his revenge and escape to the Internet. But just how far does his revenge plan go?
Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with weather in the title. Might be a digital storm but a storm nonetheless. One that seems to come out of nowhere are cause all sorts of trouble to teach others a lesson.
So Bryan who looks after the tech people for Millennium banks is the first to realize that there is an issue with the software in the intranet system – they are under attack but don’t know from where. This is where the creators of some high-tech systems and AI’s come into play. The company is owned by Ada and she is one of the main creators. The only way to really see what is wrong with the system is to go into it. A virtual trip that takes on a life of its own, one none can seem to control.
AI’s Prosper and Memoranda live on an island hidden within the network system. With the help of a human employee, when it was deemed for him to be deleted, he made his way there to continue to live and learn. This hidden place had old broken code sent to it when no longer needed and he managed to create the island to live on as a result. This ever learning AI creation then managed to create Memoranda. Only later trying to explain what she is in relation to everything else and what is happening to their island. He seems to also have other digital programmes at his disposal on the island as well. Ariel is one who tests things for him and he appears to be the one responsible for creating the digital storm stopping data flowing on Prosper’s command. Done as a test to see what affects it would have on the human staff and how they react after the fact.
The island doesn’t just hold old data but also a virus by the name of Caliban. He was sent to hack into the Millennium banks intranet system. When found he was deleted and ended up at the island. Prosper might not like him but he does have skills he can use to his advantage. Prosper was the one to send him to exile when he was in charge of looking after the intranet system but then he too soon found himself sent there when an upgrade was created – Sebastian.
Seems the storm was a way to get people to come and figure out what was going on with the system. The first to arrive on the island is Further, an AI Ada had created in secret. Prosper, Ada’s first creation, and his daughter Memoranda find him first. He doesn’t really know what is going on as on the island he has been given a form instead of just being a digital presence.
This is where the journey splits into three main areas as Further isn’t the only one sent through the storm. Ada, Javier, Ted and Sebastian plugged their conscious minds in to get their and soon find themselves being lead around a creation more advanced than they could have thought up. Bit risky as if your mind gets hurt within what does that really do to the body? Ted is clearly looking at a way to get rid of Ada and Javier so he can be the head of the company with his AI Sebastian by his side. No guilt written into his programme so can almost be convinced to do anything his creator suggests.
The next split follows two hacker kids who felt like taking advantage of the system being down that they went exploring and found themselves on the island. They just want to have fun and when they find a never-ending bottle of booze you can guess the fun they might have. They seem to stumble upon the monster Caliban. He may be able to twist them to do his bidding in getting rid of Prosper by making them believe it truly is a game they are in, one they can win and rule the island.
This island is different, as it truly does seem to exist – elements, human reactions, touch, sound. A true digital world where Prosper is testing his theories he has learned in a way to create his own sense of self and now sense of his daughter too. Is she just a copy of him or does she have her own consciousness and skill of learning and developing.
Note to self if a banquet looks too good to be true it might just be when the host comes to say hello. Seems some people are to be judged for past mistreatments and that day is now. Can AI’s have a sense of self and truly learn? That’s one of the main things Prosper is trying to figure out. An interesting digital world you are sucked into and quite a journey you are taken on. It’s a twist on a classic tale that is well worth a look.
4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publishers for my honest review.