In this science fiction novel, which author Peter Riva dedicates to his family, an antediluvian entity is about to terminate all life on Earth in a future world controlled by computers, without need, and where a man named Simon Bank reveals a great secret, finding employment working with the System’s artificial intelligence to fit into human society and keep America running smoothly. However, Earth is threatened, with Simon needing to save his own life and those of others on Earth, needing to reassess all he knows, rely on instinct and intellect, and depend upon new friends, some who are not even human, to resolve things in a limited timeframe.
The fifty-year-old Simon himself narrates the novel, finding something wrong with the sky’s behavior, for instance, producing tornadoes and killing people, although he enjoys his work in spite of finding the nation’s main weather control system, WeatherGood One, to malfunction, with plenty of expository backstory such as the future United States of America, simply called the Republic of America, expanding north and south to include former Canadian Provinces, Mexico, and the rest of Latin America. In light of a catastrophe that occurred a century before the novel’s events, sterilization for those who didn’t have children before the age of thirty years became implemented.
Throughout the story, Simon deals with an increasingly-sentient System, which gives itself the name Apollo, with occasional references to twentieth-century events such as the Calhoun Rat Studies conducted in 1962, which found a link between crowding and social pathology, information on them included in the glossary that doubles to define other terms native to the story. Ultimately, this is an enjoyable dystopian story that ends on a good note, although there are occasional parts that drag after the first chapter, which this reviewer found to be the high point of the narrative given its background on the book’s setting.
Peter Riva has worked for more than thirty years with the leaders in aerospace and space exploration. His daytime job for more than forty years has been as a literary agent. He resides in New York City.