Daniel H Wilson hit the big-time last year with Robopocalypse (a Spielberg movie version is due next year). This book treads similar tech-speculative ground.

Set in the near future, Amped chronicles a crisis precipitated by an iffy Supreme Court ruling that brain-augmented humans, or “Amps”, are not human. Teacher Owen, equipped with an epilepsy-controlling doodah, finds himself lumped in with the new pariahs, before discovering that the implant his doctor daddy gave him has serious military capabilities.

Amped is mostly bobbins, a short book with big text that reads like a detailed movie pitch. It would make a movie; the explosive, simplistic sort, like Jumper , that fits in the gaps not filled by superheroes at the cinema. There’s a girl in need, a cute kid, a job that needs a certain kind of man to do, and a twist so obvious it might as well be on page one. Speaking of superheroes, the backlash against amps reads like the X-Men, but less realistic, coming out of nowhere to make the author’s point.

What saves Amped is that Wilson writes well; his prose is strong, with good visual flourishes. Well-paced and peppered with action, it holds the attention for a time.

Amped presents a good opportunity to explore how much we’re really in control of ourselves anyway, but this deeper matter is addressed in one sentence, while the whole sudden rejection of enhancement tech seems so unlikely as to undermine what little credibility its sub- Die Hard storyline has. Competent, but entirely unchallenging.

Guy Haley

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