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His criminal past catching up with him, a troubled young man seeks escape into digital utopia by uploading his consciousness into a computer -- just as first love casts his life in a new light. In this thrilling near-future science-fiction novel, Mark McClelland explores the immense potential of computer-based consciousness and the philosophical perils of simulated society.
Enjoyable and thought-provoking
A satisfying blend of hard science fiction and film noir, Upload explores the ramifications of virtual existence against a backdrop of precarious relationships and impending retribution, while building toward a thrilling final act. It made me ponder whether utopia can be found, or dystopia can be avoided, when one has full control of their domain.
Though-provoking yet accessible - highly recommended!
Upload by Mark McClelland is a complex and thought-provoking, yet accessible foray into the life of a brilliant but troubled young man, Raymond Quan, and his quest to escape from a world that has done little to inspire loyalty in the orphaned engineer.
It almost troubles me to call this a story of science fiction – it begins about fifty years from today, but the subject matter seems entirely plausible and may be mirrored in reality much sooner. People in Raymond’s time seek recreation, pleasure, and sometimes analogues of unremarkable everyday life in virtual reality environments that can be programmed with nearly limitless scenarios and environments.
It is not a stretch to see something similar soon coming to pass in our world, a world where many people are already living somewhat virtual lives through social networks and online gaming. If this virtual environment exists and we can interact with it, could we go one step further and live nearly full-time in this environment, extending our lives with machines; perhaps eventually eschewing the human body altogether and become immortal? If we can do such things, should we? These topics have been broached many times over the years, both in popular media and in non-fiction, but Upload presents a fresh perspective on what could otherwise be a tired subject, in a tangential way to Richard Powers’ acclaimed 1995 work Galatea 2.2.
The author is not so broad as to leave the reader unfulfilled nor does he express the arrogance to provide a definitive map to the philosophical trails that we must all travel on our own.
The major attributes of Upload that prompted me to write this review are the overall existential and moral questions that the tale ponders. Very generally, what defines life, existence, love, conscience, and happiness? I personally identified with Raymond at several points in the story – this caused me to critically examine my own psyche when he later thought or acted in ways contrary to how I think that I might behave in a similar situation. We are given insight to his growth over the years, and while I thought that the character development was a bit too rushed in the second half of the story, I was still in suspense until the bitter end on what I think is the key question – will Raymond ever be able to connect with other people, and if not, will he care?
In concert with everything I have said above, not only did I finish Upload, I read it during nearly every free moment during less than thirty hours. As the hundreds of unfinished novels on my shelves will jealously attest, such a feat is quite extraordinary for me and is perhaps the greatest endorsement that I have to give.
I anxiously await Mr. McClelland’s next novel. Read Upload – you’ll be glad you did.
I had such a good time reading Upload! I found the story to be immediately engaging and appreciate how clearly I was brought into the various digital landscapes. The whole story was captivating with some wonderful twists at the end. I've already passed the book along to a number friends and hope more pick it up on my recommendation.