Review by Roy Boyd
In the unlikely event that you know what metanoia means, you’ll possibly be able to guess where some elements of this story are headed. However, if you don’t have a clue, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
A year after the events recounted in Blitzkrieg, Ian’s now Public Enemy Number 1. He’s in hiding, and amusing comparisons are made between sightings of him and that other American bogeyman, Bigfoot. Over that year, Ian has incapacitated (i.e., deliberately not killed) almost two dozen people sent to hunt him down, and Metanoia begins with him taking down another hunter, this one wearing an armoured suit Tony Stark would be proud of. At this juncture Ian gains a sidekick, a female journalist who was shadowing the hunter. She helps Ian to navigate his moral and ethical dilemmas, while serving as a useful plot device. She’s also a good character in her own right, well realised and likeable, although her haircut’s bloody horrible.
This book, like the others, asks us to consider various moral and ethical dilemmas regarding artificial life and artificial intelligence. It also mentions the AI experiment when Google or some other corporation let two AIs speak to each other. Within minutes the AIs had created a language their humans creators couldn’t understand. The people running the experiment pulled the plug, probably about five minutes before the machines decided humans were an infestation and turned our own nuclear arsenals on us.
Ian hooks up again with Chrono, a character he met in Blitzkreig, and is taken to meet Swainston, a reclusive genius billionaire. You know the type. He explains that the Nome, a being that appeared to Ian, is a spontaneously-generated strong AI (one that displays genuine intelligence), and it’s one of a handful that have popped up all over the globe, born out of the internet, super-computers and the like. Our genius then proceeds to try to speed up the inevitable war between China and the USA. Like Liam Neeson’s Ducard in Batman Begins, he’s convinced that the only way to a brighter tomorrow is blowing away today.
Although Ian raises a lot of interesting points about poverty, class, artificial intelligence and much more, at its heart it’s a sci-fi action adventure. So amongst all the heady philosophising we still manage to end up with a megalomaniac villain that wants to end the world (or this iteration of it). Cue some, though not too much, crazy violence and explodey bits.
At the end Ian, almost literally, walks off into the sunset with his journalist pal. Then, suddenly… Well, that would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, it’s a satisfying conclusion to a series that had its share of thrills and spills and yet still managed to intelligently explore some important issues. Ralph Meyer’s art is excellent throughout, and Fabien Vehlmann delivers a story that satisfies on many levels.