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The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson
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The Affinities

by Robert Charles Wilson

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I am biased against books where there are multiple jumps through time--i.e. a 4 year skip here, a 5 year skip here.

That being said, I really liked this book. Full of good ideas, and some scary ones. ( )
  adamwolf | Jan 4, 2017 |
Rather disappointing, the central idea is weak. ( )
  AlanPoulter | Aug 19, 2016 |
Near future science fiction. New methods enable mapping people into "affinities"-collections of like minds maximizing the potential for cooperation. These groups of course become rivals. Recommended. ( )
  ohernaes | Apr 13, 2016 |
My opinion of this book is the same as my opinion of Robert Charles Wilson's other books: he has some really great ideas, he writes some very believable characters, his writing is very engaging, but he never quite brings those great ideas to full fruition, and in the end I found this disappointing.

The interesting idea is this: what if neurologists found a way to map people's brains, so that they could put people into social groups where they will automatically fit in and thrive? The implication is that by finding people who are neurologically wired to work well together, you could create the next phase of human evolution: a type of inter-human cooperation that makes it possible for humans to go far beyond what humans have ever done before.

This is a fascinating premise, and for a while, the book follows up on it promisingly. Naturally a corporation owns the technology to do this, so some of the book's conflict revolves around the corporation's attempts to keep control of the technology. The story also really demonstrates what happens when a large group of people inherently trust each other and watch out for each other, to the exclusion of others - a new kind of class society is born.

Unfortunately, the book never explores the idea of the next level of human evolution. The Affinities ultimately amount to no more than Good Old Boy networks. You need a lawyer? Oh, there's a guy in the Affinity who can do that. You need a helicopter tonight? Well, we can make some calls to make that happen. There is never any exploration of what humanity looks like with improved cooperation, or what they can accomplish.

Some of the reason that the book never explores the premise's full potential is that it focuses too much on the family squabbles of the main character. This is both a strength and a weakness of the book. It is a strength, because the plot is very much driven by what is happening to the main character, and Wilson is very good at writing believable and interesting people (although in this case, all of the characters except the main character are pretty one-dimensional). This is a weakness because the book is too focused on small details, and leaves out a lot of the big picture.

All in all, I found the book enjoyable to read (I listened to the audiobook, which is well-read), but ultimately unsatisfying. ( )
1 vote Gwendydd | Oct 18, 2015 |
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