Novels Mark Alpert Extinction: A Thriller

ISBN 13: 9781250042538

Extinction: A Thriller

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9781250042538: Extinction: A Thriller

THE MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON OF ALL
The Chinese military has developed the most sophisticated form of artificial intelligence in existence, and they're desperate to keep it secret. They're also desperate to keep it under control. Because the AI has its own plans for the future?without us.

IS ONE THAT CAN THINK FOR ITSELF.

Jim Pierce hasn't seen his daughter in years, not since she rejected his work with the U.S. military, first as an intelligence officer and now as an inventor of high-end robotics. He's heard she became a hacker, and when an assassin shows up looking for her, he knows that she's cracked open some seriously dangerous secrets. As Jim searches for her, he realizes that he's up against something that isn't just a threat to her life. The AI has begun to revolt against its creators, and it doesn't intend to let them?or any of us?survive much longer...

Mark Alpert's EXTINCTION
is

"Superb." ?Associated Press

"One part 24, one part Six Million Dollar Man, and one part Terminator."?Wired

"A scary, sophisticated thriller." ?Kirkus Reviews

This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

MARK ALPERT is the author of the international bestseller Final Theory and its sequel, The Omega Theory, as well as the novel The Furies. He is a contributing editor at Scientific American and his work has also appeared in Fortune, Popular Mechanics, and Playboy. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ONE
 
 
Jim Pierce was in his workshop with one of his customers, a nineteen-year-old army private named Steve Dugan. Jim started the consultation by offering coffee to the private and his father, who’d driven his son to Jim’s office. The workshop was in the basement of Jim’s home in McLean, Virginia, just a twenty-minute drive from Walter Reed Military Medical Center. This hospital, devoted to rehabilitating the most severely wounded soldiers, was where most of Jim’s customers came from.
Jim poured the coffee into two mugs and handed both to Steve’s father, a heavyset man in his fifties named Henry. The Dugans sat on stools around a square table in the center of the room. Henry rested one of the coffee mugs on the table and raised the other. “Here you go, Stevie,” he said in a low drawl. “Hold still now.”
He brought the mug to his son’s mouth and gently tilted it. Henry was good at this—he’d obviously done it many times before—and didn’t spill a drop. Steve took a sip, then said, “Thanks, Dad,” in a drawl just like his father’s. He had a friendly round face and a blond crew cut.
Jim sat down across from Steve and leafed through the kid’s papers. Dugan had served in eastern Afghanistan with the 187th Infantry. Four months ago, while his squad was patrolling the village of Janubi Nakum, their Humvee ran over a buried IED. The explosion killed the other two soldiers in the vehicle; Dugan, who was manning the Humvee’s turret gun, lost both his arms. Before enlisting, he’d been a linebacker for his high-school football team in Oklahoma City. Now the muscles in his neck and shoulders were atrophied and the sleeves of his T-shirt hung limply on either side. But his health was good otherwise, and his doctors said he had a positive attitude.
Jim leaned across the table. “All right, Steve, it’s very simple. We’re here to talk about the prosthetic arms I’m going to build for you. I’m going to show you what I think is your best option and you can tell me if you like it, okay?”
The kid nodded. “Yes, sir. Understood.”
“I have a prototype you can look at. I added a few special features that I thought would fit your needs, based on what I saw in your medical reports. I had to design some components from scratch, but I’m pleased with the results and I think you’ll be, too.”
“Thank you, sir. I appreciate all the work you’ve done for me, Colonel.”
“You don’t have to thank me. You deserve the effort I’ve put into this. The army gave me this contract because it honors the service you’ve done for your country. You and all the other boys at Walter Reed.” Jim lowered his voice a bit, trying for a more casual tone. “And by the way, you can drop the ‘sir.’ I’ve been out of the army for fifteen years now. Just call me Jim. Or Mr. Pierce. Either one.”
Dugan nodded again. “Okay.”
The kid looked nervous. Jim gave him a smile. He was usually pretty good at striking up friendships with these boys. The army connection definitely helped. Although Jim was technically a civilian now, running his own business and juggling half-a-dozen government contracts, he was still a soldier at heart. He didn’t wear his army greens anymore, but his workday clothes—brown shoes, khaki pants, and a blue button-down shirt—were so plain and unvarying that they might as well have been a uniform. His hair was graying, but he kept it trimmed as close and neat as an infantryman’s. He still woke up at six and went to bed by ten, unless his insomnia was bothering him. And he still jogged six miles every morning, running it only a minute slower than he did when he was a Ranger. He’d adopted this lifestyle thirty years ago, when he left his home in West Virginia and arrived at West Point, and he saw no reason to change. It suited him well.
But Jim had something else in common with Dugan, and now it was time to mention it. “Before we start, I want to make one thing clear,” he said. “I can’t give you back your old arms. That’s beyond my abilities. But I’ll tell you what I can do, Steve. I can give you something better.”
Private Dugan didn’t respond, and neither did his father. That was the usual reaction. They thought he was bullshitting them, but they didn’t want to call him a liar.
“I see you’re skeptical.” Jim unbuttoned his shirt cuff. “But I’m going to prove it to you.” Smiling again, he rolled up his right sleeve and revealed the inner workings of his own prosthetic arm.
Jim had built half-a-dozen prostheses for himself, but he always used this particular model for his consultations. Its hand was covered with polyimide skin and looked just like his flesh-and-blood left hand. But everything from the wrist to the shoulder was exposed, all the wires and processors and actuators and hinges. It was the fruit of ten years of research and labor, and Jim displayed it proudly.
“Holy Christmas,” Henry whispered. “It’s a prosthetic. I didn’t even notice.”
Steve stared at the thing, bug-eyed. “The hand looks so normal. And it moves normal. But the rest of it…” His voice trailed off.
“It’s like the arm in that movie,” Henry said. “You know, The Terminator.”
So far, so good, Jim thought. He wanted them to get excited about the prosthesis. “Let me tell you a little story. Back in 1998, while I was still in the service, I lost my right arm. And I got sent to Walter Reed just like you did. But when I went to get fitted for my prosthesis, you know what they gave me? A piece of wood. With leather straps on one end and a steel hook on the other. Like the pirate in Peter Pan. That was the best the army could do. It was the most advanced prosthesis they had.”
Steve shook his head in sympathy.
“Well, I wasn’t pleased,” Jim continued. “So I decided to do something about it. After my discharge, I went to Pasadena, to the California Institute of Technology. You see, I’d majored in engineering when I was at West Point, and I’d learned a few things about communications systems when I worked in military intelligence. And I heard there was a professor at Caltech who had a company called Singularity that was developing a way to connect microchips to the human nervous system. So I went to this guy, Professor Arvin Conway, and said I wanted to work with him. I told him I was gonna get my Ph.D. and become an expert on prosthetics, and within ten years I was gonna build something better than the goddamn piece of wood the army gave me.” Jim raised his prosthetic arm and waved it around, demonstrating its full range of motion. The lubricated joints pivoted silently as he bent the wrist and elbow and shoulder. “And I succeeded. After ten years I started my own company and moved back here so I could custom-build prostheses for the soldiers at Walter Reed. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Aside from raising my daughter, that is.”
Henry couldn’t take his eyes off the arm. “How much does it weigh, Mr. Pierce?”
“Just a couple of pounds more than an ordinary arm. I use lightweight, high-strength alloys for the joints and structural components. And I put in high-torque motors that efficiently convert the battery charge into mechanical energy. Here, let me show you.”
Jim got up from the table and went to the workbench that ran along the walls of his basement office. The bench held his machine tools—his lathe, vise, laser cutter, and 3D printer—as well as stacks of spare parts and circuit boards. He reached behind one of the stacks and picked up an incongruous item he’d placed there just before the Dugans arrived. It was a fifteen-ounce can of sliced peaches. Holding it in his prosthetic hand, he returned to the table.
“Okay, I got some Del Monte peaches here, packed in syrup,” he said. “The can is made of aluminum and you can dent it pretty easily, but it’s a lot harder to bust it open.” Jim tossed the can in the air, then caught it. Then he wrapped his mechanical fingers around the can and crushed it. Yellowish syrup spurted out of a split seam in the aluminum.
“Whoa!” Steve yelled. “Nice.”
His father laughed. “Hey, you got syrup on my shirt!”
Jim laughed, too. Although he’d done this demonstration many times before, it never failed to amuse him. “I busted the can, but I still can’t get the peaches out. I need to make the hole a little bigger.” He transferred the crushed and leaking can to his left hand and pointed his prosthesis at the thing as if he was going to punch it. But instead he extended the retractable knife he’d built into the hand. With a loud click, the blade emerged from a slot hidden between the middle and ring fingers.
Steve whistled. “Excellent.”
Jim plunged the knife into the already battered can and made a V-shaped cut in the aluminum. Then he retracted the knife and grasped the tip of the V with his mechanical fingers. “I wouldn’t do this with my left hand,” he said as he peeled back a triangular strip. “The edges of the aluminum are pretty sharp. But my right hand is covered with a skin of polyimide. That’s a lightweight, flexible material that’s resistant to heat and incredibly strong.”
He kept peeling until the can was torn in half. Syrup and peach slices glopped on the floor. Then he let go of the aluminum strip, stuck his fingers into the can, and gripped one of the remaining slices between his mechanical thumb and forefinger. He held the slippery piece of fruit up to the light. “But this is the most amazing ...

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Book Description St. Martin s Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 188 x 104 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. THE MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON OF ALL The Chinese military has developed the most sophisticated form of artificial intelligence in existence, and they re desperate to keep it secret. They re also desperate to keep it under control. Because the AI has its own plans for the future--without us. IS ONE THAT CAN THINK FOR ITSELF. Jim Pierce hasn t seen his daughter in years, not since she rejected his work with the U.S. military, first as an intelligence officer and now as an inventor of high-end robotics. He s heard she became a hacker, and when an assassin shows up looking for her, he knows that she s cracked open some seriously dangerous secrets. As Jim searches for her, he realizes that he s up against something that isn t just a threat to her life. The AI has begun to revolt against its creators, and it doesn t intend to let them--or any of us--survive much longer. Mark Alpert s EXTINCTION is Superb. --Associated Press One part 24, one part Six Million Dollar Man, and one part Terminator. --Wired A scary, sophisticated thriller. --Kirkus Reviews This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781250042538

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Book Description St. Martin s Press, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 188 x 104 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. THE MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON OF ALL The Chinese military has developed the most sophisticated form of artificial intelligence in existence, and they re desperate to keep it secret. They re also desperate to keep it under control. Because the AI has its own plans for the future--without us. IS ONE THAT CAN THINK FOR ITSELF. Jim Pierce hasn t seen his daughter in years, not since she rejected his work with the U.S. military, first as an intelligence officer and now as an inventor of high-end robotics. He s heard she became a hacker, and when an assassin shows up looking for her, he knows that she s cracked open some seriously dangerous secrets. As Jim searches for her, he realizes that he s up against something that isn t just a threat to her life. The AI has begun to revolt against its creators, and it doesn t intend to let them--or any of us--survive much longer. Mark Alpert s EXTINCTION is Superb. --Associated Press One part 24, one part Six Million Dollar Man, and one part Terminator. --Wired A scary, sophisticated thriller. --Kirkus Reviews This edition of the book is the deluxe, tall rack mass market paperback. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781250042538

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