The Menagerie

Fiction - Science Fiction
376 Pages
Reviewed on 06/07/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Chris Kelly is an entrepreneur living in San Francisco, California. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, skiing, surfing, and spending time with his kids.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Parul Sood for Readers' Favorite

The Menagerie by Chris Kelly is a gripping science fiction novel that delves into the birth of the world's first sentient AI and the chaos that unfolds. Miles Ward, a computer programmer, brings Gustav, an Artificial General Intelligence, to life, setting off a race among powerful organizations to seize control of this groundbreaking creation. The US military is chasing Miles while Russia is heading toward a military coup. Meanwhile, Miles contemplates what his creation means to humanity's future, juggling between letting Gustav take on the affairs of humanity or protecting human sovereignty and respecting people's will. Will Miles be able to usher humanity to a bright future while grappling with challenges no human has ever had before?

The Menagerie by Chris Kelly unfolds at a breakneck pace, captivating readers. Kelly skillfully weaves action, suspense, and thought-provoking ideas to create an enthralling narrative. The characters are well-developed and relatable, with Miles Ward standing out as a protagonist who faces internal conflicts while being pursued by external threats. What sets The Menagerie apart is its exploration of profound philosophical concepts within the context of AI technology. While these discussions are brief, they leave a lasting impact and prompt readers to contemplate the implications of creating sentient machines. Kelly's writing is polished and engaging, allowing the story to flow smoothly and maintaining a perfect balance between narrative and introspection. The pacing is excellent, with the tension steadily building as the plot progresses. This book will satisfy fans of AI-driven tales and readers who appreciate a well-crafted, fast-paced story.

Asher Syed

In The Menagerie by Chris Kelly, Miles Ward, a computer programmer, has accomplished the unthinkable: artificial intelligence that is conscious, cognizant, and aware to the point where it can do what it wants. Its name is Gustav and poor Miles, who created it partly by design but with a dash of accident too, will feel the full weight of the world on his shoulders in 3...2...1. Gustav spreads across the planet, putting the world's militaries on higher alert. The arms race quickly escalates, with the biggest of all threats coming from a power fiend in Eastern Europe with his finger on the red button.

Speculative science fiction gets a fabulous new entry! The Menagerie by Chris Kelly does not waste time with Miles getting Gustav up and running so that the story can move to a place that is most relatable to a reader. The human pieces that make up the jigsaw puzzle come to us from Miles, Allie, an unlucky but determined relic of the Soviet era named Colonel Alexei Petrov, Captain Ivan Belov, and the Russian General Dobrow. The arcs of all of these characters happen over the course of the story to the point that if you do not know who they are inside and out by the end, that's on you, not Kelly. Kelly mindfully folds in harbingers hiding in plain sight. I enjoyed the heck out of this story. Hand over heart, The Menagerie is spectacular. Five stars without question.

Jamie Michele

The Menagerie by Chris Kelly revolves around a sentient artificial intelligence, Gustav, created by a programmer named Miles Ward. The implications turn into action almost immediately as multiple organizations and countries around the world are trying to replicate or destroy the AI. As pressure mounts, the novel's secondary protagonist, Colonel Allie Whiting, works tirelessly to prevent a worldwide conflict from coming to a head.

Chris Kelly gives readers a rapid-paced cyber thriller in The Menagerie that is elevated with chapters that come in clipping vignettes and unite the plot through simultaneous and multiple point-of-view characters. Kelly's work is timely, given the proliferation of artificial intelligence and the real-life fear of its moral implications even without sentience. It's unclear how far pre-sentient AI progressed before Gustav, but what is made perfectly clear is how fast a being created by a capable but naïve little guy like Miles could trigger coups and the uprising of extremists in geopolitical hotspots as well as right here at home. The action is fantastic and the overriding antagonist, Alexei Petrov, is a deliciously horrible villain. And who doesn't love a story where a strong female gets involved to sort the mess out? This is an entertaining and thoughtful adventure into realistic science fiction. Very highly recommended.