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review 2017-08-11 10:03
The Quest for Immortality, variant no. 843: “A Calculated Life” by Anne Charnock
By Anne Charnock - A Calculated Life (Paperback) (2013-10-09) [Paperback] - Anne Charnock

“’That’s the heart of the problem. I haven’t lived enough. My character is just the combination of my intellect and my faults. I haven’t had time to become more complex, more interesting. […] I’m not sure if you realize this but without my flaws I’d be pretty dull. You should know that.’”


In “A Calculated Life” by Anne Charnock



For the sake of argument let me be devil’s advocate.


The scientific materialist assumption is that the body is the primary organ and consciousness is secondary. This is not so; consciousness is the primary experience and the body and all other experiences are secondary. The body is a construct of consciousness. Forward thinking scientists are just beginning to realise this. Man might be able to prolong life but a 'machine' existence will never happen because the 'reality' of phenomenal existence is simultaneously 'real' and 'not real'. People, including scientists tend to see everything in terms of being a binary system. Yes/no, off/on, is/isn't, 0/1, true /untrue. Reality is not that simplistic. Mm, that's some good pseudo bullshit. Preventing aging is almost certainly more achievable soon than consciousness transfer, but ultimately the latter offers greater security and opportunity. Immortal DNA is all very well, until you suffer catastrophic injury or brain damage. With transferable consciousness, you get the immortality, along with the option to backup and restore in the event of a fatal accident, as well as the ability to travel at light-speed as a digital signal to be reawakened on arrival. And that's before we even get into the idea of truly inhabiting the virtual world as digital consciousness. With an infinitesimal fraction of the earth's current energy use, you could have untold trillions living in a virtual utopia, with a near infinite diversity of cultures, worlds and lifestyles. Nevertheless, is it misleading to talk about 'transferable' consciousness? What would be uploaded would be a facsimile of your consciousness. As far as the exterior world, interacting with the facsimile, would be concerned it would be you. However, it would actually be a totally new instance of you, with no continuity of your original consciousness. It's what's always troubled me about the idea of Star Trek-type teleportation - the thought that disintegrating someone in one place and then reassembling them in another, would effectively mean the death of the original, internally-experienced consciousness (although nobody else would notice or care!). 



If you're into SF, read on.

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text 2015-11-29 14:35
Books read (or not!) in November
Wheel of the Infinite - Martha Wells
A Calculated Life - Anne Charnock
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power - Ryan North,Erica Henderson
The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin,Robin Miles
The Hunchback Assignments - Arthur Slade
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Jeffrey Cranor,Joseph Fink
Princeless Book One: Save Yourself - Jung-Ha Kim,Jeremy Whitley,M. Goodwin,Dave Dwonch

Books started: 12 (including the 2 I'm currently reading)

Books finished: 7

Books not finished: 3


Genre breakdown: All SFF, if you also include the two graphic novels which kind of fall under that category. Kind of. Except for maybe one which is more steampunk/alternate history.  


What progress made on Mount TBR? A bit of a quiet month and I added a few new books to the mountain, so not much progress made overall...


Book of the month: No contest, it had to be The Fifth Season. What a fantastic book, a great start to a new series and I want the next one now. *pouts*

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-11-07 09:12
A Calculated Life - Anne Charnock
A Calculated Life - Anne Charnock

Set in a future Manchester where cognitive implantation has become the norm and one company has gone further in terms of providing (and contracting out) individuals like Jayna, who work for both the public and private sector, doing complex mathematical modelling tasks, I found A Calculated Life to be a bit of a mixed bag.


Jayna is working in the private sector and doesn't initially seem to realise the impact that her being brought into the company has on other people. This is understandable, as we discover that people like her lead a very regimented life, complete with approved housing and regular meals, and are basically 'born' as adults, ready for their new job. Even then, Jayna and those like her are seen to be undertaking small acts of rebellion against this routine, while other more substantial acts can lead to a 'recall' - they worry about this, particularly as the line between petty and non-petty is so unclear as to make anything but complete obedience a significant act of defiance.


As word spreads about others being recalled, Jayna begins to worry that she may be heading the same way even as she fosters a relationship with someone from the company she works for who is one of the non-implanted. In the end, her plans are all thwarted by a moment of panic on her part and A Calculated Life ends with the others who had been involved living in relative freedom (though poor and working hard) and an implication that Jayna has been placed somewhere else with a new memory. I'm not sure if this is meant to give a sprinkling of hope over what is otherwise at times quite a bleak existence for her, whether she realises it or not.


Personally, I'd have liked a little more flesh to the bones of Jayna's character - though the story is told from her perspective, I never felt as though I really got to know what made her tick. In fact, all of the characters could have done with being a bit more definite and suffer from being pretty much perfect and good, with the exception of one with whom Jayna has a violent interaction. Life isn't like that, so the folks with whom she is most closely dealing in particular needed to be a little more human.

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review 2015-09-30 15:02
Human, or not?
A Calculated Life - Anne Charnock

This is a slow starting but ultimately moving  “wow!” of a story, set in a dystopian future Manchester with three types of “humans”: humans with a moderate amount of genetic engineering to help them resist social evils like addiction, genetically engineered humans who have been enhanced with implants to make them smarter, and simulants or “created” humans who have been completely bio-engineered to have beyond genius level brains that can process huge amounts of data for their employers. Simulants, of course, have never been children and they have no families, so they live in regulated dorm-like residences. There has been some tinkering with the simulant models to make them more personable, but giving them a larger emotional scope could backfire by decreasing their functionality, so they are carefully monitored for any deviations.


Jayna, one of these newer simulants, uses her stellar data crunching skills to forecast social and economic trends at the offices of Mayhew and McCline where she tries to interact smoothly with both types of more normal humans.These humans interest her greatly in spite, or maybe because, of the fact that she often has to correct their faulty work, and the slow start I mentioned is no criticism because it’s fascinating to be inside her head as she interprets the world around her.


Jayna starts to believe that both her personal life and work-related predictive skills would be enhanced by experiencing more variety and  texture, which draws her slowly into an increasingly dangerous relationship with Dave, an un-implant-enhanced human who works in the company archives but has a side business selling honey. Dave’s grandfather had been a rebellious, freethinking college professor, placing Dave very low in the social hierarchy, so he lives in the high-rise, slum-like outskirts of town, past the comfortable upper middle class houses of humans with implants, and beyond the citrus groves that must be part of the English landscape as a result of climate change.


As new understandings and sensations open to Jayna--some as simple as the smell of a fresh brewed cup of coffee--she feels compelled to continue her risky encounters with Dave, but if she’s caught she could be wiped clean and reprogrammed by “the constructor”, the entity who supplies the simulant workers to businesses.


The author creates a strong connection between hyper-intelligent but naive Jayna and the reader--though anxious about the possible consequences of Jayna’s actions I was cheering her on--and the world building of this chilling, socially stratified future Manchester is excellent, and introduced naturally through Jayna’s interactions with the people who work at her office and the simulants who share her housing compound. The building tension of the story kept me hooked, and the ending left me a lot to think about. I listened to the well done audio version of this unusual but compelling book.

Source: jaylia3.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/human-or-not
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review 2015-05-15 00:00
A Calculated Life
A Calculated Life - Anne Charnock Boring, confusing.
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