The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anyth...

Review || Killing Adam by Earik Beann

The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.

Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.

After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known. But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power? How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?

As science fiction, we expect that the stories we read emphasize future technology that is not yet realized; Concepts that will make our lives better, easier, and more enriched. We already live in a world where people are very rarely "offline". The way we live, work, and play have changed immensely even in the past decade. We are more connected than ever and have a wealth of information at our fingertips, yet we are left wanting. Do you feel naked when you forget your phone at home? Do you find yourself with friends, yet still checking to make sure you aren't missing a text, or email, or someone's social media post? I'm sure, if we are being honest, we all could answer yes to those questions. You could even argue that our constant connection to our smartphones is actually draining our brain power and diminishing our social behavior. Killing Adam pushes that point to the extreme.

In Killing Adam, our MC Jimmy Mahoney is lonely. Oh, sure, he has people all around him, but everyone, including his wife, is plugged in and online. While he has a chip that allows him to do everyday tasks and interact with the world around him, he is unable to experience the cyber world that everyone else finds so addicting. Suddenly the very thing that Jimmy bemoans makes him particularly valuable and he finds himself at the center of a conspiracy and revolution.

Killing Adam is a surprisingly visceral read. You feel for Jimmy as he's being left behind. Then the plot thickens and Jimmy is thrown into a whirlwind of conspiracy and danger. As he faces each situation, you feel your own anxiety rise. All of the characters are so very well done here and you experience with them as a reader. Even with Adam, you endure his perspective. While the story does start rather slowly, it gives you an opportunity to fully settle in before the action. Once it commences, it doesn't falter until it comes screeching to a halt. 

As a reader who cut her teeth on Aesop's Fables, I find that books with philosophical dilemmas linger longer than those without. There is certainly an abundance of lessons to be discovered here. Killing Adam might very well be read as a cautionary tale of things to come. 

Do yourself a favor. 

Put down your smartphone for a while and choose to be present with those around you. 

Over the years I’ve been involved in many small businesses, including software development, an online vitamin store, specialty pet products, a commodity pool, and a publishing house. You could say I’ve got a bad case of serial entrepreneurism. But above any beyond all that, my original love has always been writing and telling stories. 

As a teenager, I wrote two fantasy novels during summer break. Neither were published—which is probably for the best!—but I loved working on those books, and learned a lot by writing them. Later, I authored six technical books on very esoteric subjects related to financial markets. Those were meant for an extremely niche audience, and would be insanely boring to anyone outside that specific group of people.

In October 2017, I found myself at ground zero in the middle of the Tubbs Fire. A group of nine of us snuck back into our neighborhood in the middle of a mandatory evacuation zone, formed a vigilante fire fighting force, and saved our block (and an apartment complex!) from certain destruction. Working on my memoir of those experiences brought me back to those summers as a teenager spent working on my fantasy novels, and rekindled a deep love for writing that I had somehow forgotten about. Now it’s all I really want to do anymore. 

I live in California with my wife, Laura, and our Doberman and two Tennessee barn cats. When not thinking of stories, I enjoy practicing yoga, riding my bike, and playing the Didgeridoo.