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ALPHA Hardcover – Sep 15 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (Sept. 15 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416520813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416520818
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.5 x 23.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,890,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I really wanted to like this one, but it's not nearly as good as "Sunrise Alley" Nov. 16 2009
By Mrs. Baumann - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Plot Summary: This follow up to the sci-fi romantic thriller "Sunrise Alley" focuses on sexy enemy android Alpha and Lt. General Thomas Wharington, director of a government spook squad. Alpha is convinced that her boss, Charon, is still alive, and to that end, she's still trying to capture Thomas per her last order. Thomas finds himself protecting Alpha from his higher-ups who want to strip her down like an old car for the information they can scavenge from her neural mesh. When Alpha kidnaps Thomas he must break her programming, but how can he reason with an android who has no concept of free will?

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.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good mix of science fiction and romance March 27 2008
By Dale R. Cozort - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Alpha is a well written romance between a dangerous 'female' android and the man trying to pry secrets from her. It is set in a future close enough to now to be recognizable, but distant enough that some artificial intelligences have developed to the point where they are at or above human intelligence level, while still remaining non-human. This is a recent enough development that governments and societies are still groping for ways to cope with it.

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.
Asaro is Astronomic June 8 2015
By Richard G. Merrill - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Catherine is the most heartfelt SF author that ever existed amongst Earth's creatures. She has a phenomenal imagination, integrated with science knowledge technically tethered to a human heart. Her literature clearly exposes excellent impregnation of physics into her imagination, how advanced technology would affect a human. Many SF authors intentionally minimize or omit human emotion, with their primary intent to convey prediction of scientific evolution, with much of their work awe-inspiring and truly deserves their award and credit. Nonetheless, Asaro's perception of a universe is unique and gratifying. It actually changed the way I think about our existence.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Android Loving July 29 2010
By Moth Ella - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Charon, an android criminal mastermind has been defeated, and all the various copies of himself deleted. Now the only problem left for General Thomas Wharington is what to do with Charon's android helpmate and hatchet woman, Alpha.

Alpha is about as advanced as an android can be without achieving actual sentience. She has super strength, massive computing abilities, and physically resembles in every way a thoroughly beautiful, sensual human woman. But Alpha was also programmed to be a ruthless mercenary and a very effective killer.

Thomas and the US government need the information Alpha has stored in her matrix about Charon's organization, but she refuses to cooperate, and if they take apart her "brain" to access the information, everything Alpha is or might become will be destroyed. As Thomas spends more and more time with the android, he becomes convinced that Alpha's programming has evolved, and now he must decide between serving his country, or saving the android he's watched evolve closer and closer to humanity by the day. The android he is increasingly coming to care for...

I picked up this book from the library because it was listed on the Galaxy Express as one of the top 100 SFR of all time. I'd read a few of Catherine Asaro's fantasy romance novels in high school, and liked them well enough, but this book was much grittier and had far less romance than those books. Alpha is also the sequel to Asaro's book Sunrise Alley, which I'd wish I'd realized going in, because the first several chapters are spent recapping events and reintroducing characters from Sunrise Alley. I caught up well enough, and I don't think you need to read Sunrise Alley to like or understand Alpha, but this book does have some serious spoilers for Sunrise Alley, so if you care about things like that, read the books in order.

The main character of Alpha is, oddly enough, not the android Alpha, but her captor and champion, Thomas. Thomas is a three-star general, a former fighter pilot, the survivor of more than one heart attack and over seventy years old (but through various life-lengthening medical treatments he only looks and feels about 50). This book very much belongs to Thomas, and is less about Alpha evolving into a person, as it is Thomas coming to understand how he feels about Alpha and his own humanity. Thomas was a pretty likable protagonist, and I appreciated how he was not a Teflon hero. Thomas gets beat-up and bruised and broken, and every confrontation he's in, he walks--or limps--away with injuries.

I appreciated that realistic treatment, particularly considering Thomas's age. Even Thomas himself notices he doesn't bounce back from rough-handling like he would have in his youth. This was a nice deviation from the usual SF hero, who is typically a robust specimen of Alpha-maledom. Thomas himself is sort of a recovering Alpha male, trying to become more in tune with his own emotions, and trying to become better about communicating them and demonstrating his feelings to those he loves. He's realized he's not immortal or infallible, so he's also working on letting the other people in his life see that. Which is why the ending really pissed me off, because it basically undercut his character arc. But I don't want to have spoilers so I won't say more than that.

So, you might have noticed I'm not talking too much about Alpha in this review, and that's because I feel like she's really only a supporting player in this book. She does change throughout the novel, but the main thrust of the narrative is definitely focused on Thomas. This means that I really feel like this book can't be classified as a romance, per se. I didn't really see an emotional connection between Thomas and Alpha. He primarily seemed attracted to her because of how sexy she is, and she seems to be attracted to him because he reminds her of her creator, Charon, which was more than a little creepy for me.

Another issue of the book was it felt very episodic. There isn't really a strong central conflict that drives the momentum of the plot, which means that at times the pacing felt a little aimless.

The world-building also could have been given more page-space. The story is set in a near-future (2032) United States, and I actually felt like this could have been explored a little more. It didn't feel like the near-future for me the way, say, Naked in Death did. The world of this book felt more like a SF world made up out of whole cloth. Thomas, for instance, was born in 1960, and I would have liked him to relate the future he's living in to the "past" that the reader is inhabiting. He didn't feel like someone who was born in the sixties, grew up in the seventies, etc., his background just felt kind of generic American in the Far Future, so I would have liked more details that could help me sink into his mindset, his experiences more.

On the whole, problems aside, this wasn't a bad read. Thomas was a pretty likable protagonist, and a breath of fresh air after all the hard-ass alpha heroes I've been reading lately, and if you don't mind that the book is light on the romance, give it a try.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
terrific science fiction Sept. 7 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The National Information Agency Director of the Office of Computer Operations Lieutenant General Thomas Wharington is elated that the major threat to world domination by the malevolent genius Charon is over as the villain is dead (see SUNRISE ALLEY). However, he also fears the threat to mankind remains viable as Charon's "offspring" the super brilliant android Alpha still lives to carry out her master's plan.

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.

Harriet Klausner