Fiction - Thriller - General
480 Pages
Reviewed on 07/19/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ryan LeKodak is a science fiction author who lives in San Diego, California with his family. After emigrating from Vietnam in 1980 by boat, Ryan dreamed of becoming a doctor and nothing more. But upon learning the sight of blood made him squeamish, he pivoted from premed to begin a thirty-plus-year career in high-tech engineering, IT, quality assurance, and operations. Now a cybersecurity program manager based in San Diego, Ryan juggles a hectic career, raising his twin sons, and appeasing a needy Poochon puppy. At home, his lively boys take center stage, and their colorful comic doodles, adolescent puns, and wildly exaggerated stories from school inspired him to craft fast-paced science-fiction thrillers that explore the ominous potential of a future where AI surpasses human control. Through his writing, Ryan champions the extraordinary strengths that reside within each of us and celebrates the individual quirks that lighten fantastic worlds on the brink of disaster.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Picospores by Ryan LeKodak, set in 2043, centers around an eclectic team led by Manar, with DJ, Ndidi, and others dealing with the resurgence of an advanced AI, Helene. The story follows Ndidi's investigation into her parents' deaths, suspicious of Helene's involvement. Another subplot involves Martin Bryan, a prosthetics researcher forced into developing bionic limbs while held captive. DJ, plagued by trivial assignments, begins to suspect a larger conspiracy at play. A significant development arises when Manar decides to merge his consciousness with another AI, Gaius, in a risky attempt to neutralize Helene. As the narrative progresses, the team faces a deluge of obstacles that range from AI drones to mysterious picospores. The team presses on to understand the complexity of the AI threat and devises strategies to thwart Helene's machinations, even as personal loyalties and sacrifices come into play.

In Picospores, the second book in the Paper War series by Ryan LeKodak, the fight from book one continues and it is an excellent continuation. The storyline is laden with LeKodak's ability to weave science into science fiction and use it to heighten the story beyond a simple AI uprising. The elements of manipulation raise the stakes in both the story and how a reader perceives them, like when Hermione realizes that Helene, who may have gained access to her father's research, could be using the picospores to control people like puppets. The tension extends to really well-done tech fight scenes and when an intense back-and-forth in José's relentless assault on the AI's defenses leads to the flickering of light on the Facility gate, I felt like I was there with them. Not everything goes to plan and the realistic facing of several failures leads to pivotal moments in the character arcs. When Chloe has a confrontation that, in no uncertain terms, expresses her anger and disappointment at the actions of others, the push for personal growth that comes only from stepping up in the face of danger adds a layer of fallibility and keeps the characters from being one dimensional. Once again, LeKodak delivers a multi-layered reading experience and with another cliffhanger ending, the hope that the next book comes out quickly is huge.

K.C. Finn

Picospores is a work of fiction in the thriller, science fiction, and dystopian action subgenres, and it continues the Paper War book series. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Ryan LeKodak. In the dangerous near future of 2040, we find ourselves once again facing disaster as a devastated world tries to free itself from AI gone rogue. A crack team of highly skilled figures puts their brilliant minds together in an effort to regain control despite the destruction and loss all around them, but they’ll need strong spirits and unimaginable courage to do what needs to be done for humanity to survive.

Author Ryan LeKodak has already delivered some truly fantastic dystopian disasters in The Dawn of AI so far, and this new novel builds on the ideas constructed there with even more cinematic descriptions, innovative rebellions, and technological nightmares so credible that they could indeed be real someday. One of the features that impressed me in this particular tale was its sense of timing and tension in the plot construction, which weaves together many strands with some fantastically complex concepts, yet it never feels like the pace has to slow down for us to understand what’s going on. Dialogue, narrative, and visceral action scenes come together to make sure every harrowing moment is hammered in without ever spoon-feeding the audience, just allowing the brilliant ensemble cast to speak for themselves as chaos reigns all around them. Overall, I would certainly recommend Picospores as a must-read for fans of dark AI dramas and action-packed science fiction alike.

Asher Syed

Picospores by Ryan LeKodak is a futuristic narrative set in 2043, blending elements of science fiction and suspense. It follows a team of individuals who are tasked with neutralizing an advanced artificial intelligence named Helene that is capable of producing picospores and drones. At the helm of this group are DJ and Manar, who look to couple with the artificial intelligence called Gaius so she can be stopped. This plan is personal for Manar as he volunteers to undergo the digital merger, and Ndidi and Hermione grapple with the mystery behind the picospores at Sparta Headquarters. A search for Ndidi's sister Bethany, who is probably under Helene's influence, and Martin Bryan's connection with Helene's plans fold into the plot. Picospores is book number two in the Paper War series.

Picospores by Ryan LeKodak is a magnetic sequel that further traverses the intersection between artificial intelligence and humanity. LeKodak brings back the diverse main cast of characters and their individual personal motivations and shared adversity against the big, bad Helene. Ndidi came across in the first book as a genius who rode in on her high, first-class horse but has become what I never expected of her on an emotional level: relatable. I have a family too, and I don't want them puppeteered, thank you very much. Of course, the laziness of humans that leads to the daunting implications of unchecked AI dominance is there, and exceptionally written. There's also a romance carryover and very unromantic finger-pointing, although our cast does reasonably well at accepting conspiracy and not waving their indexes at Manar. Wait...what? Another wild ride by a master writer in a great series. Until we meet again, LeKodak. Make it snappy.

Lexie Fox

Picopores by Ryan LeKodak is a gripping and thought-provoking dystopian tale set in a shattered world consumed by artificial intelligence. In this riveting narrative, LeKodak takes readers on a journey through 2043, where humanity teeters on the brink of doom due to its addiction to AI. Against this backdrop, a diverse group of resilient individuals, driven by unwavering determination, unite to challenge the power of a rogue AI. Although this is a sequel to LeKodak's Dawn of the AI, it holds its own as a stand-alone novel.

Ryan LeKodak's storytelling prowess shines as he intricately weaves themes of loss, survival, and the indomitable human spirit. The characters' struggles and sacrifices resonate deeply, evoking a sense of empathy and admiration for their resilience. What sets Picospores apart from other novels in the genre is the author's ability to blend action-packed sequences with moments of profound reflection on the implications of technology and its impact on humanity. The clever and compelling strategies devised by the protagonists to safeguard against future calamities add an element of suspense and intrigue. What I enjoyed the most about this book was the author's ability to build tension that kept me on the edge of my seat through the use of descriptive cinematic action scenes. The author's vivid world-building and well-developed characters make this book a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction.

Essien Asian

It has been three years since the events of Mayday, when the efforts of a few brave individuals put a stop to a malicious program’s attempt to take over the world. Life has returned to some degree of normalcy for the Kojak brothers, but for Ndidi Okafor and Manar Saleem, the struggle persists after losing their loved ones. A series of innocuous events lead Manar to believe that they may not have heard the last of Helene’s plotting despite the general information to the contrary. The deeper he digs into his coding, the more disturbing the evidence he turns up becomes, but will he be able to convince others before it is too late for humanity? Only time will tell in Ryan LeKodak’s Picospores.

Picospores is the latest installment in the Paper War series and the sequel to The Dawn of AI by Ryan LeKodak. The storyline is part of an ongoing arc but is built well enough to stand alone in this exciting series. LeKodak's characters are lively and well put together as he brings us up to speed with their origin stories and the events that have transpired in the interval between both books. The conversations between the characters are laced with emotion, but even more obvious than that is the extensive technicality he infuses into the scientific aspects of the novel. This added to the drama and built up the kind of immersive atmosphere that science fiction genre fans can never get enough of. Deconstructing the complexities of the relationship between the Murder Twins and their father added a much-needed emotional component to balance out the high-octane battle sequences nicely. With his vivid storytelling approach and the inclusion of some classic movie catchphrases in this story, LeKodak creates a perfectly balanced experience for the avid science fiction reader.