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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
A thrilling science fiction mystery, Houdini's Rendezvous by George Moore is about Sean St. Jean, the founder of Babbage Labs, Incorporated, who owns the lion’s share of the company profits. With the recent death of his first and only CFO, Max Bennet, Alison Kessler steps in to join the company at an opportune time. Sean has developed Houdini, a scientifically advanced A.I. satellite in service for the Pentagon. Unfortunately, Houdini goes rogue as it develops its capacity for self-learning and independent thought. The satellite has been interacting with a fourteen-year-old Pentagon connection for modeling strategic war games against China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Houdini targets the telecommunications hub of military headquarters—disabling them or taking full control. Targeted nations are preparing to retaliate. With the help of Alison and Sean’s engineers, they develop a more advanced A.I. satellite named Venus to pair with Houdini. Sean’s little cabin in the mountains will become the only place where Houdini will choose to communicate with his maker.
Stories of artificial intelligence and robots going awry have become a common staple in the science fiction genre, but reading Houdini’s Rendezvous will prove that an author’s creativity for weaving a plot can still take this theme to a unique and highly entertaining level. George Moore succeeds in doing this. It is a story that is not hard to describe. It has technocrats, mavericks, venture capitalists, spies, hackers, bureaucrats, and a grumpy, large old cat thrown into the mix. Moore knows how to pace quickly. His method is to give you enough ideas to get to know the players before zooming into the conflict where these characters are embroiled. He portrays the stories of both humans and the A.I.s realistically so that it becomes a cautionary tale on what can go wrong with advanced technology. It is an entertaining novel and a great way to finish off your year of good reading.