ALPHA Hardcover – Sep 15 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
The evil genius Charon is dead, but Alpha, the gorgeous, superintelligent android he built, remains an unpredictable threat in Asaro's entertaining mix of hard SF and romance, the sequel to Sunrise Alley (2004). As director of the Office of Computer Operations of the National Information Agency, Lt. Gen. Thomas Wharington is determined to learn Alpha's secrets, but he has about as much success against her expert ability to "read" human body language as he does in finding a baby-sitter for his precocious granddaughter, Jamie. As Wharington wonders about the burgeoning sexual bond between him and the android, Alpha takes him captive and transports him to Charon's island hideaway, where he learns a terrible secret: Charon has survived and, with Alpha's help, plots to take over the world. Asaro has all the right pieces for a taut thriller, though the action suffers at times from a surfeit of plot threads, including the still-unresolved subject of Sunrise Alley itself, a shadowy group of free-roving "Evolving Intelligences" with vast power over the Internet "mesh." (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Asaro's extrapolation of current artificial intelligence theories, begun in Sunrise Alley (2004), continues with different characters, including another female protagonist. Six-foot EI (evolving intelligence) Alpha flies jets and wields a machine gun in the good cause of kidnapping General Thomas Wharington. In keeping with Asaro's romantic agenda, a shared ordeal on a desert island makes the two aware of their commonalities. The general's child-prodigy granddaughter and a female pro-android activist in love with her lover's android reincarnation are two further strong characters. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Sunrise Alley is a terrific man-hunt thriller loaded with tons of sci-fi, so I was eager to read the follow up novel, Alpha. Although Alpha is okay, it's not in the same class as its predecessor, so I'm left feeling a bit bummed right now. The story didn't flow with edge-of-my-seat action. Instead, it felt kind of bumpy and uneven, especially regarding the romantic relationship between Alpha and Thomas. It didn't help that physically they kept alternating between being together and being apart, so they started over from scratch a couple of times. It was kind of weird.
Speaking of strange, I think this is the first May-December romance I've encountered that features such a huge age gap. Thomas is 72 and Alpha looks like a 20 year-old super model. I don't know her android age, but I kept trying to picture my grandfather running around like a stud and it just wasn't happening. I know, I know, Thomas was supposed to look twenty years younger than his age due to medical science, but he was still a geezer in my mind.
That kind of disconnect with the romance alone was enough to keep me from raving here, but then the plot let me down too. It was clunky and predictable, with very little interaction with the Sunrise Alley rogues. That was disappointing, since I kept expecting Thomas and Alpha to make a visit to the android's secret lair. Then I kept hoping that Thomas would have a fatal heart attack and they'd have to copy his brain into an android body resembling Fabio. No such luck.
The story is well-plotted, with characters I cared about, plenty of action, a believable relationship at its core, and quite a few loose ends that probably imply that there will be more books in this universe.
Alpha is a sequel, and the author certain leaves room for additional stories, but it stands well on its own.
He needs to learn her secrets to neutralize her, but no sentient being can "read" body language as she can. This frightens and attracts Wharington, who finds his desire for the beautiful AI leading to mistakes. Alpha captures Wharington and takes him to Charon's secret island location. To his shock Wharington finds his worst nightmare awaits him.
Though there is an abundance of too many unsolved subplots left dangling, ALPHA is a terrific science fiction thriller that fans of Catherine Asaro will appreciate. The story line is fast-paced and can stand alone as the back story is somewhat summarized in the opening sequence. The Wharington-Alpha confrontation is deftly handled as both finds an attraction interfering with their respective prime directive though the android deals with it better. Readers will enjoy this saga and look forward to the meshing resolution of other threads.