Without the need for any AI algorithms, Steve Taylor-Bryant read The Synapse Sequence from Daniel Godfrey and Titan Books...
In a future London, humans are watched over by AIs and served by bots. But now that justice and jobs are meted out by algorithm, inequality blooms and protest is brutally silenced.
Anna Glover may be the most hated woman in the troubled city – the media’s scapegoat for an unpopular war. Now she hides from the public eye, investigating neglected cases by using the mind-invading technology of the synapse sequencer to enter witnesses’ memories. When a PI brings her a new high-stakes case, Anna sees a chance for atonement. But soon she is drawn into a plot that threatens to upend her hard-won anonymity and put everyone in danger – even those she hopes to save.
I’ll be honest, when I first received my review copy of The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey I was expecting a book basically lifted from Minority Report but, whilst some of the action within the novel has that Future Crime feel, it is so much more than that. The near future science fiction elements seem believable and like something you would find in a Philip K. Dick story. So real, in fact, that in an afterword from the author he admits that some of the technology he included in his plot he was shocked to find is actually being tested in this day and age, and it’s this day and age where Godfrey makes his novel stand out from the crowd. It’s incredibly human, and very, very relevant.
Alongside a very solid science fiction story is a look at the corruptive influence of power, an inventive way to explain online privacy and its importance and what could easily happen when it’s not protected, and a fascinating look at modern propaganda and how certain views and opinions are dripped into the feeds of certain people. Godfrey has also taken an in-depth look at class structure and people’s reactions to certain events dependant on where the victim is from, their financial wealth, their political ideals and it is to Godfrey’s credit that he keeps this element of the story very grounded in the real, allowing the reader to think deeply about what they would do or think in similar situations.
The best thing in the book though is Anna and her story. Often, in novels, a protagonist ends up doing what they do through some sense of purpose, or maybe a mission of revenge or retribution meaning they come across as heroic in a story that maybe needed something different. In The Synapse Sequence Anna is as flawed as anyone. Mental health issues and self harming, written sympathetically by Godfrey but without hiding the traumatic feelings that lead to these actions. The investigation into an air crash in Tanzania, Anna’s role in it, the fallout, and the sense of panic and anxiety Anna now lives with is the reason she uses SPOILER, can’t tell you! But leads to a fascinating reason for how she came to work with the Sequencer.
Daniel Godfrey has managed the impossible. He has written an intriguing near future science fiction novel, added an almost old fashioned detective feel to it, grounded it in the changing political landscape we are currently experiencing, and has given his characters real depth. I’m not sure of the last time I enjoyed a sci-fi book this much but it’s certainly not recently. The Synapse Sequence is incredible, book of the year so far.
Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites
The Synapse Sequence is published by Titan Books on 19th June