It’s no news flash that America seems more divided than ever. You pound your chest, dive into the Facebook rathole and convince absolutely no one of your point of view who doesn’t already agree with you. The days when politicians could yell at each other in public, share a drink after work and eventually figure out a workable compromise to keep the country moving forward seem as nostalgic as churning your own ice cream on grandma’s front porch.

Do we really hate those who are different from us that much? It sure feels that way at times, especially when experts at stoking divide spew gasoline onto the embers of our smoldering fears.

Now comes author Joseph H. Gibson, whose novel, Hate’s Recompense (Amazon), extrapolates the current trends into a dystopian, near-future America in which we presume that the Republicans have become the Nationalists and the Democrats have become the Resistance. 

ONE PRESIDENT’S DEADLY POLITICS

The Nationalist president, Ronald Kahn, faces a difficult reelection in a country on the brink of civil war and has hatched a plot to undermine democracy by executing cyberattacks and anthrax-laced bioterrorism. 

With the country in an uproar, Kahn can declare a state of emergency in the face of a second lethal attack he’ll blame on Iran. The Nationalist answer is to implement an artificial intelligence program called Sentinel to run the country’s infrastructure and more, complete with chip implants in all citizens under the guise of security and protection. Using favorable media outlets like “Wolfe News,” Kahn can falsely claim Resistance complicity and execute a vision not unlike Hitler’s views of an Aryan master race. 

Resistance leaders Henry Little Hawk and Senator Aleja Trujillo learn the details of Kahn’s plans and decide the only answer is to reprogram Sentinel so that control reverts to its original “mother,” an artificial intelligence program called Athena whose goals are benevolent and good. Only two people can do that — Athena creators Bur McAnter and Jenks Kennard. Both face terrible threats and choices. So do the military leaders who take their side.

AI ACCORDING TO AN EXPERT

This is a techno-thriller written by someone who knows his turf.  According to Gibson’s biography, he’s an expert in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies. He applies his scientific and technical knowledge to this first book in the “Athena” series with insight. He also does an excellent job of not getting overly wonky or technical while opening windows for lay readers into the possibilities, both positive and horrific, of a world that surely will be controlled more by AI whether we like it or not. 

The author makes no bones about his passion and agenda on his website: 

“I have been extremely concerned about the future of our country as our political divide continues to escalate,” he wrote. “I wanted to show in my book what could happen if we don’t curb this hatred and provide a solution that leads to peace and prosperity for all. I am a firm believer that technology can provide us a path … ”

The opening chapters drop us into the fray of a new world that’s bewildering at first, forcing us to piece together the situation as it unfolds. The dialogue feels at times less than human, almost robotic, as if the characters themselves have been transformed by the technology that permeates their world. Without giving too much away, the ending will satisfy those who like their story arcs to end on a hopeful, if wishful, note.

Hate’s Recompense will appeal to techno-thriller fans, particularly as it picks up momentum like a high-speed processor in its final third. It’s a smart, imaginative, cautionary and scary tale that shows us an America that we must avoid at all costs.

Hate’s Recompense is available for purchase. For more on Joesph H. Gibson, visit his author profile page and check out our interview with him here.

Joseph Gibson has worked for over twenty-five years in emerging technologies and has led the implementations of some of the world’s largest Search and Knowledge Management systems. He is currently engaged in the fields of machine learning, artificial intelligence and intent-based processing in his role as Knowledge Management Lead for a global high-tech corporation. He incorporates his extensive technical background into his fiction, making his writing current and feasible.