Prometheus Road by Bruce Balfour
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I got to page 229 of this 320 page book and gave up. It just got too silly. I tried, I really did, but while I like dystopian novels, this one had odd problems from the beginning. Tom Eliot lives in a agriculture-based commune in the western part of the US which has been blasted by “the gods.” San Francisco is now submerged and other cities are now piles of rubble. Tom incurs the wrath of the gods by venturing too far into restricted zones, and Hermes comes and demolishes his family, thus forcing him to flee. He’s saved by an old hermit named Magnus, who turns out to be his uncle, and who seemingly knows all. They team up with the Dead Man, a corpse who years previously had created this AI world for DARPA that has now taken over the world, the AIs acting as gods to the idiot populace. This starts reading like The Matrix, as Magnus begins to train Tom for his journey on Prometheus Road so he can defeat the evil AIs and free mankind. Training takes place while Tom’s asleep. And it reads kind of like Alice in Wonderland. There’s an oracle, Tom turns into a river and a trout, who’s actually his dog, speaks to him. It’s really kind of weird.
Hermes is on the hunt for Tom, who the AI gods view as a threat. Why? I never found out. I guess the author makes it clear by the end of the book. He better. Tom loses Magnus to Hermes as he travels to Las Vegas to team up with someone there who can help destroy a data center. Meanwhile, the language and imagery just keep getting stranger and stranger. The AIs are in the Stronghold somewhere down Prometheus Road, a virtual road I never figured out. Tom has to find the Stronghold to destroy the AI software the Dead Man built. It’s apparently hidden in the “Jewel of Dreaming,” which is close to the “Tree of Dreams.” Meanwhile, Tom has “vision vine poison” in his system. It just starts to sound silly after awhile. What started out as moderately promising just disintegrates into stupidity. And that doesn’t account for his girlfriend, also on the run from the gods after disobeying her strict father who tortured her by shocking her body. She now lives in the Vegas sewers. It’s all quite crazy. I enjoyed Balfour’s The Digital Dead, for the most part, which is I why I gave this such a lengthy chance, but now I’m just fed up with it and am washing my hands of it. I don’t care what happens to Tom. Balfour lost me a long time ago. Not recommended.
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