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Ray Nayler. MCD, $28 (464p) ISBN 978–374-60595-7

Nayler’s masterful debut brings together interesting science and well-wrought figures to supply a deep dive into the nature of intelligent everyday living. Maritime biologist Ha Nguyen will get the prospect of a life time when she’s invited to research a lately learned culture of smart octopuses in Vietnam’s Con Dao archipelago. Aiding her are Evrim, the world’s 1st android, and Altantsetseg, a human expert drone operator, both of those of whom increase nuance to Nayler’s thematic exploration of consciousness by way of their vivid personalities and backstories: Evrim’s programming step by step breaks down, leaving them considering the nature of self, in the meantime drones enrich Altantsetseg’s natural recognition as she works by using them to both of those observe the octopuses in their all-natural habitat and protect the archipelago from rivals eager to capitalize on Nguyen’s research. Through, Nayler supplies a tightly targeted framework for the problems Nguyen faces as she tries to decipher octopus language and society, which will specially please science-minded readers. Subplots showcasing genius hacker Rustem and Eiko, a guy trafficked into slavery aboard a fishing vessel, expertly weave into the narrative whilst also presenting visitors a broader being familiar with of the political and technological state of this in close proximity to-foreseeable future environment. As entertaining as it is intellectually demanding, this taut exploration of human—and inhuman—consciousness is a knockout. (Oct.)

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