Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Douglas E. Richards is fast becoming a prominent voice where science-fiction is concerned, exploring original ideas directly related to our modern world. In his latest novel, The Immortality Code, he tells a story revolving around a technological breakthrough which ultimately opens the way towards a discovery capable of bringing either an unimaginable utopia or total annihilation to mankind.
Table of contents
Douglas E. Richards’ Meditation on Technology
Scientific progress is something the majority of us have become accustomed to seeing many times over the course of their lives, but in truth, the speed at which we’re moving forward is something completely new to our divided civilization. In The Immortality Code, Douglas E. Richards explores just how heavenly and terrifying this progress can turn out to be.
The plot begins by introducing us to Allie Keane, a doctor working on her PhD in quantum physics, and about to make a revolutionary discovery which promises to change the world as much as the wheel did back in its own time. It all revolves around the realm of quantum computers, which by the way, are a highly-anticipated advancement in our own real world.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t anticipate the hornet’s nest she’d turn over once publishing her theory, with there being numerous tech giants battling it out behind the scenes for ultimate supremacy… and she has fallen face-first into it. Even where the common good of mankind is concerned, it seems personal gain and money still reign as kings.
She soon finds herself pursued by secret forces intent on stopping at nothing to learn her secret, willing to cross any line they have to. Her only hope lays in Zachary Reed, an operative who himself is also working for some shady organization, seemingly pertaining to the government.
What few people realize, however, is how Allie’s breakthrough actually becomes the key to making first contact and obtaining technology thousands of years beyond our own, capable of rewriting the laws of our environment and creating a utopia for mankind. On the other hand, it also has the potential to bring with it total annihilation.
The Current Topics of The Immortality Code
Hard science-fiction comes in many shapes and forms, but in my personal opinion, the most compelling stories in the genre are always the ones which relate to our modern-day reality and based on the technology we have and are developing. This is exactly how The Immortality Code is framed, taking place in a very near but recognizable future.
The main reason I personally have a preference for this sort of approach to the genre is quite simple: anything in fiction based on or relating to reality becomes more impactful by the mere virtue of this connection. When we can link the ideas in the book to the events happening around us, they start to feel more important and definitely worth thinking about.
I was especially interested in Douglas E. Richards‘ take on quantum computers and the kind of progress they could bring us one day. While I naturally don’t assume they will be the key to making contact with alien life forms (although, who can say?), there is good reason to believe they will have a massive impact on the modern world.
It’s the author’s depth of thought when exploring this impact which, I believe, sets this book a level above its peers. Richards obviously doesn’t have any agendas, nor is he taking any sides; he does his best to neutrally-explore the positive and negative consequences of the potential technological progress standing at our very doorstep.
He always explains his ideas very clearly and despite it being a hard sci-fi novel, I have no doubt people who aren’t well-versed in the scientific domain will find them easy to follow. He has a true gift for turning complex thoughts into clear and concise words, something invaluable for an author dedicated to this genre.
Chasing the Dream of the Future
Years ago, the idea of hard science-fiction was largely centred on technical details and precise explanations on how various pieces of technology worked. However, over time, authors in the genre have started to shift a little bit further in the direction of simplicity for the sake of entertainment, and it’s a decision I completely agree with.
This is, after all, a novel, and it is much more pleasant to read through when it also gives us some thrills and twists along the way. I would say The Immortality Code strides the line perfectly, never leaning too far to one side nor another. Richards obviously never forgot he was writing a novel, with large chunks of it almost reading like a thriller.
After the initial introductions to our characters, which are fairly short yet descriptive, it takes very little time for the ball to start rolling and for the pace of the story to pick up. From a certain point onward it feels like danger lays in wait at every turn for Allie, with the story often moving forward frantically with few pauses to be found.
With this being said, the pauses we do see in the action are always dedicated to the discussion of the ideas I mentioned in the section above, and we are given the necessary time to absorb and consider them.
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I have to add, I also found the cast of characters to have been quite enjoyable, and even if we don’t learn every single detail about them, we know enough to see their complexity. The further you get into the story, the more it becomes apparent most of its players aren’t easily classified in black and white, and I think it’s something we ought to remember for our own lives in the real world.
The Final Verdict
The Immortality Code by Douglas E. Richards is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the best hard science-fiction stories of the year, not only telling an exciting story, but more importantly, offering numerous insightful meditations on today’s technology, where it might take us in the near future, and the potential consequences.
If you’re looking for a near-future sci-fi novel dealing with quantum technology as well as first contact with plenty of food for thought, then I highly suggest you give this novel a shot.
Douglas E. Richards
Douglas E. Richards is an American writer who primarily specializes in science-fiction, though he has also dabbled in non-fiction as well. He has numerous series and standalone books to his name, with some of the better-known ones being The Cure, Oracle, Split Second and WIRED.