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The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams

 

A work of “singularity” fiction, in which reality itself is controlled and shaped by an intelligent agent for the benefit of humans who now live forever, can no longer harm one another (without consent), and in which no desire is left unfulfilled.

In a world where everything is safe, where any whim can be instantly satisfied, what is there left to live for?


A novel, no longer online

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Listed: Jan 24, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

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Fascinating, complex science fiction

By Linda Schoales, editor

Feb 20, 2009: “Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect” is a fascinating, complex science fiction novel about the ultimate super computer and what happens after it decides that only it can protect humankind. The novel comes with a warning that it contains “strong language and extreme depictions of acts of sex and violence”. This is not an exaggeration. If you are at all squeamish about violent, sado-masochistic sex you will not enjoy this novel. If you can get past what’s in the first chapter, you’ll probably survive the rest and find a brilliantly written exploration of what it means to be human.

The first chapter starts after the Change. The super computer, Prime Intellect, is so powerful that it can give people anything they want. Literally. Caroline Frances Hubert is 690 years old, with the mind of a fiercely independent, cunning old lady, and a body that is in its mid 20’s. She’s proud of her old-style skills, and her reputation as Queen of the Death Jockeys, people who stage exhibitions of their own “deaths”. They compete for the most “savage, outré and unique demonstration” of death. Each time they die, Prime Intellect brings them back, in any form they choose. The novel “Mayflies” explored the idea of what happens to humans who don’t have a purpose. “Kushiel’s Dart” had a heroine who was a masochist. “Metamorphosis” takes the idea of bored immortality into some truly nauseating places.

The second chapter rewinds to begin the story of how this world of Cyberspace came to be. Dr. Lawrence created an artificial intelligence using Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics as its “morality”. I don’t know enough about the technology to know if any of this is possible but it makes for very interesting reading. Prime Intellect takes the three laws to the extreme, figuring out how to protect humans from everything, even aging. From there, the novel alternates between Caroline in the future, starting to question the world Prime Intellect has created, and Lawrence in the past watching this world be created.

The characters are very well-written, with even Prime Intellect feeling like a real “person”. Some of them are horrible people, some of them are merely human. Caroline is fiercely intelligent, reveling in the challenge of the puzzles she encounters as she tries to understand what happened to her and her world. There is a lot of very interesting, philosophical dialog amongst the action. The story is well-paced and compelling, even when the reader may want to turn away. The action is often savage and even disgusting, but it is very vivid.

“Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect” is a disturbing, intriguing novel about a future world and the near-present that leads to it. If you can accept the violence and graphic images, there are some really interesting ideas discussed. I’m actually glad I read it and I certainly won’t easily forget it.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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A Passionate and Emotionally Disturbing Read

By Sorrel McCrae, member

Apr 20, 2009: There aren’t many stories that cause you to pause in the middle of the first chapter and pull a Neo; “Woah” is probably a word you’ll be saying out loud throughout The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect.

Granted, the title is a mouthful and readers may be a bit subdued by the heavy content. Yes, the sex is graphic. Yes, the violence will make you squeamish. But the way it is woven together accents to the story. It shocks you. The world [more . . .]

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Intricate, Albeit Unhinged

By Robert Rodgers, author of The Last Skull

Oct 28, 2009: I’ll be honest: When the rotting zombie violently raped and killed the immortal death addict, I started to skim.

But if you can handle depravity of that sort, don’t let its presence throw you off the trail of a gripping, well-told story. There’s an abundance of rich veins in the setting the author has dug out, and he is quick to excavate them with precision and care.

Prime Intellect is a God-like [more . . .]

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Excellent "big picture" singularity novel

By Paul Samael, member

Mar 3, 2016: I’d endorse most of the positive reviews here – so in summary, yes, this is a very good “big picture” sci-fi novel about where an artificial intelligence-induced “technological singularity” might lead us and no, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted (owing to the disturbingly graphic content of some chapters). But I would just add the following:

1) Although there may be a tendency to pigeon-hole this book as sci-fi, in my view it’s possible to draw comparisons with contemporary [more . . .]

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