A sci if offering somewhat in the style of the 50s and 60s sci if . By that, I mean it is built on the premise that the society is nothing but greed and self-interest, corrupt, with the people of great wealth having gained their wealth through corruption, stealing, and caring nothing for the common people. Their greed is destroying the earth, but they care nothing about this as long as they can continue to fill their pockets.
We are introduced to eight individuals who have become disenchanted with life, and are at some kind of crossroads in their lives. They are each approached by a well dressed, obviously wealthy, man or woman, who say they work for an organization that needs their services for the next two weeks, and will pay that person the equivalent of $50 million dollars. The people are from several different countries and walks of life. they are told their bank account will be credited immediately with several million dollars just for hearing out the person, and a quick check through their phones show that indeed, they now have the money. Without my going into the details of the conversations and money transfers, the eight agree, and leave immediately for California where they will gather and be taken to an undisclosed location. There is a lawyer, a therapist, a writer, a brilliant mathematician, a retired military special ops guy, a priest, a drugged out rock and roll star, and I forget what the other one was.
They are taken to a submersible vehicle, and are told they are going to a station that is 36000 feet deep in the ocean. It is a vast complext, mysterious, but contains a city and and lots of lab area. It even has a 20-some floor subbasement.
They are told they there because a mysterious man claims he has a virus which will destroy the entire population because it is complex on the DNA level, gives the infected person no symptoms, and suddenly, the person will simply drop dead. It has an incubation period of 6 months, so it is impossible to know someone is infected until they actually die. There is no antidote for this.
He says he will not release it if he can be convinced that there is still something worth saving in mankind, and is using these 8 as representatives to talk him out of it.
OK, it is a ridiculous premise, and leads inexorably to that deplorable parade of moralizing, and philosophizing which I truly dislike. I prefer my characters to live their particular belief systems, rather than sermonize about them. So we slog our way through a couple of the interviews with Mr. White, who is being housed in a glass cage, where he has a comfortable chair, a bed desk and chair, etc.
At one point two of the 8 go exploring and discover more subfloors, and eventually the lab people tell them that this is a place where everyone goes when they die. There are two men operating two different virtual reality programs. One is pleasant and the other is basically a virtual reality hell. Where you end up is determined by some big mathematical program which assigns a rating to all your actions during your lifetime.
They are taken on a tour of the two virtual realities, and because hell is so awful, they come away with a different view of things.
Then Mr. White sets up what is simply a version of game theory, pitting the 8 against each other.
It was all very tedious, and if I hadn’t been working on reupholstering an office chair, and listening to the story on the text-to-speech option on my Kindle, I probably would not have finished the book. It has a predictable ending, and two more volumes in the series.
See, this is a good example of why there is chocolate and vanilla. I found it tedious, predictable, and annoyingly moralizing. My sweetie, however, LOVED it. This is why a review can never say a book is bad, or good, etc., but can only say it was good FOR ME, or bad FOR ME. I have read some books that I thought were absolute horrors, and checked out the reviews on Amazon and was amazed to find that people loved them.
So, final analysis: too heavy handed in the moralizing department, too heavy-handed with the symbolism, and a B+ for the sci fi structure on the bottom of the ocean. and a B+ for the concept of storing brains to produce memories. This is a trilolgy, and I cannot face slogging through two more of these.
I am not sure in what genre to place this, so I am calling it sci fi/speculative fiction.