The Happy Chip
Author: Dennis Meredith
What I’m Talking About:
I really liked The Happy Chip by Dennis Meredith. The strength of this book is its premise. You know how you search for something online and then every margin advertisement on every webpage that shows up is about that thing? Online retailers track everything you buy, the wish lists you make, and the things you search on. Meredith’s characters wisely quip, it’s like Amazon knows more about what I like than I do. We already wear watches and wristbands to track our activity levels, heart rate, and sleep patterns. It’s not even a stretch to imagine a nanotechnology, a biologically safe computer chip, branded as “the Happy Chip,” which can passively monitor all those things plus hormone levels, insulin, and any other chemical in the body. With a phone app synced to the chip, you’d know immediately how you felt about a food, a person, or the movie you’re watching—you would know what you like. What if you took all that data and merged it with other people’s results for the most accurate database of recommendations conceivable? Unlike Yelp or TripAdvisor, it would be impossible to have a troll driving down results or artificially inflating them. Sounds great, right?
Meredith successfully takes that thought and carries it out to a dramatic conclusion. Anyone who likes a good conspiracy theory will enjoy this book. It’s fast-paced and props to Meredith for giving his main female characters a brain. They are not just window-dressing, but intelligent, active participants in the story.
The book reads very much like an action movie, and frankly, I think it would be even better told in a visual format. I could totally see someone like Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Lee Pace in the role of Brad Davis, the technical writer who’s hired to write the biography of the Happy Chip’s inventor. Of course, what he discovers is terrifying to think about.
As technology continues to shrink and become more cost effective, I have no doubt that we will continue to see books like this being written the way artificial intelligence made for a slew of science fiction offerings in late 1970’s most famously with HAL in 2001 and into the 80’s. How many Terminator movies are there now? The Matrix, AI, I Robot… we seem to love exploring our relationship with technology. Meredith has just made it more personal.
My only frustrations with the book and what kept it from being a solid “A” was that there were several moments when people showed up or situations changed a little too conveniently in an effort to move the plot forward. This is something I can accept in the time constraints of a movie, but not from a book where length is not an issue.
My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot
About the Book:
The Happy Chip is the latest nanoengineering wonder from the high-flying tech company, NeoHappy, Inc.. Hundreds of millions of people have had the revolutionary chip injected into their bodies to monitor their hormonal happiness and guide them to life choices, from foods to sex partners.
Given the nanochip’s stunning success, struggling science writer Brad Davis is thrilled when he is hired to co-author the biography of its inventor, billionaire tech genius Marty Fallon.
That is, until Davis learns that rogue company scientists are secretly testing horrifying new control chips with “side effects”—suicidal depression, uncontrollable lust, murderous rage, remote-controlled death, and ultimately, global subjugation.
His discovery threatens not only his life, but that of his wife Annie and their children. Only with the help of Russian master hacker Gregor Kalinsky and his gang can they hope to survive the perilous adventure that takes them from Boston to Beijing.
The Happy Chip, an edge-of-your-seat thriller, spins a cautionary tale of unchecked nanotechnology spawning insidious devices that could enslave us. It dramatically portrays how we must control our “nanofuture” before it’s too late.
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Glyphus LLC
Genre: Science Fiction
Format(s): paperback (292 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/Author