What is the divide between mind and machine?
What is the divide between mind and machine?
United StatesFuture Earth (Houston, Los Angeles, Paris), Mars, the Moon, an interstellar ship, and a distant planet.
Distant FutureTwo hundred years in the future.
Faced with a lethal climate and a manmade plague, Earth's government uses fear of a hostile alien race to control the masses. Daniel Walker offers hope for colonizing a new world until he runs afoul of an unscrupulous nanotechnologist determined to re-engineer humanity itself.
At ten years old, Daniel witnessed first contact with the alien Garuda, huge birdlike creatures who believe humans are best obliterated. With no forewarning or subsequent explanation, the Garuda destroyed Earth’s outposts and slaughtered everyone there including Daniel’s parents. Daniel survived by hiding in a storage tube where he remained trapped for days before rescue. In that dark silence, Daniel lost his sanity, and even after years of therapy struggles with flashbacks. As the only human to have seen a Garuda and lived, Daniel is reluctantly famous, but later he finds that fame useful for beating out his competitors to win a coveted position with ACES, the Allied Coalition for the Exploration of Space. He goes on to win the heart of the woman he loves and public support to build an interstellar ship.
Ever since the attacks, no one ventures into deep space except to raid the planet Nereus to obtain its blue-furred creatures which humans have fallen in love with. Daniel hates the Nereid pet trade, as these creatures are often abused by their owners, but Daniel argues that the fact ships successfully make these forays proves the Garuda aren't the continued threat the government claims.
Like Daniel, Cadmon Dhyre was also orphaned early, but the cause and result are worlds apart. Cadmon's parents died in a T-nanogen carrier camp along with millions of others afflicted with the disfiguring manmade ‘toad’ virus. Left on his own to survive, Cadmon employed his innate genius to escape the camp and become a medical doctor and renowned nanotechnologist. He's allowed to live and work among normals,but is shunned and despised for his deformity. Despite bans against combining artificial intelligence with nanotechnology and genetic engineering, Cadmon employs them all to find a cure for himself, and he grows increasingly ruthless.
Before launching to the new world, Daniel and his crew face the Garuda in a violent encounter. Daniel barely survives, and the woman he loves is killed. Suppressing his grief, Daniel continues the mission, and takes her body along to fulfill his promise that she would be the first on the new world. There, he buries her, unaware that in the firefight with the Garuda, she was exposed to the AI nanogen created by Cadmon. The AI nanogen resurrects her body in a dangerous new form, adapted for survival, inhuman and unrecognizable to Daniel, and with no memory of her past.
As she learns and physically 'nanomorphs' into a more pleasing form to interact with humans, Daniel isn't sure if this creature is turning into the woman of his dreams or his worst nightmare. It’s the latter when the ship's doctor discovers Daniel is also infected, and declares their entire ship should be quarantined, along with the planet they explored. During the return journey to Earth, the doctor works diligently to suppress the nanobots in Daniel's body. Unbeknownst to them, the body of a dead Garuda in the ship's morgue was also infected by the AI nanogen.
Meanwhile on Earth, Cadmon uses his AI nanogen to reinvent himself as a charismatic religious leader. Cadmon keeps his AI nanogen solely for his own use, and his true identity secret from everyone except those he enslaves. He has a long view of how he will engineer humanity to survive in any environment, under his control. Everything is unfolding according to plan, until Daniel Walker's ship returns, and Earth is presented with a stunning but alien-looking woman. Cadmon recognizes that she is a product of his own invention and attempts to enslave her with his nanobots, but she escapes into the ocean. Attacked by sharks, she is rescued by the surprising appearance of a thousand runaway Nereids who come to her aid and share the secret of their existence. Recognizing their importance, she promises to help them.
When the Garuda returns to life, Daniel must come to terms with the fact that he, the Garuda and his resurrected fiancée are all three tied together by an artificial intelligence that links them irreparably.
In a face-to-face confrontation, Cadmon attempts to gain control of them. His abilities are too advanced to resist until the Nereids intervene. They overcome Cadmon with their mysterious ability to share memories. While frozen in a trance-like state under their influence, Cadmon is placed in stasis for safe-keeping.
Daniel and his friends now understand that Nereids are the revered ‘dreamkeepers’ of the Garuda, and that it was human exploitation of them gave rise to the attacks. Their new mission will be to return the Nereids as a peace offering to the Garuda.
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