Double Showcase: Review & Interview | “The Path” (Tag series, No.1) by Peter Riva with an interview with the author on behalf of his Cyberpunk series! #FuellYourSciFi

Posted Monday, 2 May, 2016 by jorielov , , , , 1 Comment

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for the Path series by Peter Riva hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “The Path” direct from the author Peter Riva in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I took a chance on this Sci Fi Series:

I had my eye on this series originally, when I saw the blog tour go live on behalf of The Path except at the time I wasn’t sure if I could focus on reading it, which is why I took a pass on hosting the tour. What drew my eye to read this title now, in the Spring is a personal curiosity about ‘Cyberpunk’ as well as AI as a method of telling a story set in the future, as I haven’t even see AI the motion picture, yet! I did go and see Asimov’s classic turnt into a motion picture: I, Robot and I truly loved the concept of that story-line as well as how it was handled in film. I might change my opinion after I read the series, which was something I tried to do ahead of seeing the film; I yielded my timing was not in the cards, as I hadn’t wanted to miss my chance to see it in a theater. Although, I do separate my feelings for books and motion pictures, sometimes I objectively cross-compare the components of a story set in both mediums, or find I prefer one over the other in the end. It just depends – I walk into both with such an open mind, I let my thoughts remain open to what is possible.

Cyberpunk is actively spoken about during Sci Fi November, a book blogosphere event I’ve participated in for each year I’ve been a book blogger (i.e. three years) and yet, I’ve not picked up a novel to read set in this sub-genre! I also happen to love Hard Science Fiction stories as a whole due to the level of technology and science embedded into the core of background fuelling the story forward. This brings me to the focus on my blog happening right now in the beginning weeks of May!

What ‘#FuellYourSciFi’ means and why I’m focusing on Science Fiction for a fortnight:

I hadn’t had the best Sci Fi November in 2015 and I completely missed the Sci Fi Experience as well (December/January),… a disheartening reality for a sci-fi geek of a girl to admit, but my heart wasn’t into reading the stories back then due to personal adversities and illnesses. I wanted to dip back inside the science fiction stories I had on my shelf to read back then, inasmuch as try my hand at new stories coming out right now this Spring 2016.

Thus, I’ve decided to create my own mini-focus on behalf of Science Fiction which I’m calling #FuellYourSciFi – as a jump-start to getting your head back inside a genre your passionate about exploring! This includes works of short stories, novels and select Non-Fiction being highlighted across sub-genres and creative expression for a solid fortnight here on Jorie Loves A Story! I’m thankful I can kick-off the event with this blog tour whilst I give ‘Cyberpunk’ a whirl and see if at long last, it’s a section of Sci Fi I can sink my teeth inside! Follow my journey on Twitter by the tag #FuellYourSciFi!

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This is is a double-showcase post for the Reaching Angelica blog tour, wherein I requested to read the first novel in the series ahead of the second. I also submitted questions I felt were pertinent to new readers of this trilogy and honed in on the questions which interested me most as a first-time reader of Peter Riva and the Cyberpunk worlds his trilogy is set inside.

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Double Showcase: Review & Interview | “The Path” (Tag series, No.1) by Peter Riva with an interview with the author on behalf of his Cyberpunk series! #FuellYourSciFiThe Path
by Peter Riva
Source: Publisher via iRead Book Tours

All life on earth is about to be terminated by an entity as old as the galaxy itself. To make matters worse, Simon has broken everything already.

In a future world that is run by computer systems and that is without want, how can a man find his role? Then, if the very computers he works on to try to make them more human suddenly try to kill him, revealing a secret so vast that it affects every living soul on the planet, can that man be a hero?

These are the questions that face the stumbling, comic, and certainly flawed Simon Bank. His job is to work with the System’s artificial intelligence, making it fit more perfectly into human society so that it can keep the country running smoothly. But when the System threatens the peaceful world he knows, Simon suddenly must rush to save his own life, as well as the life of everyone on earth. Forced to reassess everything that he thought he knew, he is caught within circumstances way beyond his control.

Simon’s only hope is to rely on intellect and instincts he didn’t know he had, and on new friends, not all of them human, to change himself and all humanity. And he doesn’t have much time.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781631580123

Genres: Science Fiction

Published by Yucca Publishing

on 20th January, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 224

Published By: Yucca Publishing (@YuccaPublishing)
an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. (@skyhorsepub)

The Tag series:

The Path | No.1

Reaching Angelica | No. 2 (Book Synopsis on Riffle)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

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My review of The Path:

Riva begins his exploit into the Future not so very far-off by an introspective vein of thought where his lead character is taking a new perspective on what he was taught, what he has known to be true and the current reality of his ordinary days being struck by a weather event (i.e. tornado) that is not theoretically even possible to be occurring in downtown Manhattan but yet, is happening all the same. He has developed a world supremely controlled down to a finite detail – where anomalies are not meant to happen, as everything has a particular order and set of perimeters. Including the weather – a bit of an interesting turning of tides, considering even in the 21st Century, we are finding how unpredictable weather patterns are to understand and how the dynamics of climate are not as easily able to be known.

Similar to my readings on behalf of Antiphony, Riva has begun his on discourse on society, technology, religion and our place inside the world itself – how we view our living reality and how our living reality is altered by what is never completely in our control. He has written a challenging text because like the other author, he wants you to ponder the deeper meanings and take the Tag series to an awareness of recognising what could be unnoticed right before our eyes. The only key difference between the two, is Antiphony was a pursuit to understand a higher plane of existence outside of our limited sensory understanding of ‘reality’ which broached spirituality and other ideals of thought. Within the Tag series, Riva has augmented a society removed from any religious or spiritual pursuits, as the controlling rule is specifically geared towards putting humanity through a vise and only allowing humans to live a life deemed beneficial to the whole rather than the limited few.

In other words, nothing about living is determined by the individual but is rather systematically fused to an ordering rule (i.e. the government in this case; of which I can only presume is similar to The Hunger Games world based on the notes my friends have given me on it’s behalf). I think it’s safe to say my preference is always to have a level of spirituality kept inside a world – even if the world is futuristic, I’m not a particular fan of dissolving all thoughts and beliefs of a higher power; hence why I never read Phillip Pullman’s series beginning with The Golden Compass.

This brings me to a cross-roads – as I’m personally conflicted by continuing with this series and with this novel.  Everything I read ahead of time did not allude me to think this was on the same vein of thought as Pullman, as I did read reader’s reviews on behalf of The Path and Finding Angelica. For some reason, I walked away feeling this was an Alternative Reality timeline on behalf of what a ‘future’ could resemble within the style of a cautionary tale with roots in Science Fiction.

I’m an open-minded reader, yes, but not when I find literature that takes God out of the equation as it’s a conflict of interest against my own personal beliefs, which is why as said I never read Pullman’s series. I had no interest in reading it as soon as I found out about that one tidbit of fact. My stance on this hasn’t changed now, although I wish I had started this novel sooner than the days leading up til my review and the blog tour going live as it’s definitely a conflict for me to resolve. I re-read over the opening sequences of this novel to sort out what Riva was truly saying as he does differ in his words from Pullman, but one thing that kept affecting me was how this was written with such intensity about all facets of life – it was like reading a personal essay on humanity set on hyperspace disclosure for a future I truly pray does not become a reality.

I definitely realise now why I shy away from Dystopian stories and why this threading of thought is just not my cuppa as a whole. To begin with it’s such a devoid abyss of hope and light – everything is so upturnt crazy against where we are right now, it’s hard to see how anyone could find any joy in life. I hadn’t seen or read anything to grant me the impression this was Dystopian either – talk about a light-bulb as you first read the opening chapters! I had so many swirling reactions just based on the opening of this novel, I decided it was not worth continuing to read. Most of it was disturbing on such a new level for me, I simply wanted to remove it from my conscience and not let it enter my long-term memory. I’d advise this to be a series for readers who regularly read hard-core Dystopian societies and who do not have a personal issue with the absolute removal of spirituality and God’s presence, as it appeared to me this was the case.

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You’ve created a series (the Tag series) which fits inside the niche of TechnoThrillers and Hard Science Fiction – what captured your attention the most initially, to focus on technology or the science behind the technology that can alter the path of human destiny?

Riva responds: Human destiny, if we are to continue to evolve and not expire by our own hand, is totally dependent on hard-wired programming related to exploration, going over the next hill, uncovering new possibilities. Partially this human driving force has led to every discovery of what was already there, like transistors actually being neurons (discovered 20 years after).

Science is, after all, only the means of discovery of what is already here coupled with this human need to explore. That’s why faith always bumps its head against science… two methods on the same path towards enlightenment. Faith wants to know, science want to explain. When either assumes the other is wrong – wait for it – eventually the truth comes out and both sides coalesce. Adam’s rib becomes DNA and so on.

Artificial Intelligence has been explored in Science Fiction for several decades, how did you seek to change the dialogue and focus away from what was previously known whilst entertaining a new thread of thought for today’s reader?

Riva responds: I think it was the perspective I was reading and seeing from other great writers and the techno-community that bothered me. They all make the assumption that, somehow, machines will evolve independent of their human interface. But all machines are created in our own likeness to some degree. That made me think that an infant AI might be able to have input, much as a child would. It is the age-old question of nature vs. nurture. I chose to try and make the machine have this one great opportunity – by accident. Or was it?

Technologic advances have carried with them a forbearing of caution as how to augment their purpose without eliminating ours is the key to balancing progress with tech. How did you research the back-story and progression of science for your series? What stood out to you in our reality as a forbearance against your own?

Riva responds: Well, that’s a book in itself, condensing a life spent learning, seeing parallels, remembering disparate facts and seeing then coalesce. Much of what I wrote in the Path is based on personal knowledge (stuff learned over decades) allowed to extrapolate in a story where I asked myself, “What if all these things you know were to fall into the same chain of events?” Now, that was fun!

When did you first find yourself attached to Science Fiction and what was your main reason for drawing inside it’s heart of story, forethought and innovation?

Riva responds: Sci-Fi has always been the author’s medium for allowing the “what if” question to be posed and hopefully answered. Once in that mode, you can allow yourself to prognosticate – and the greatest joy will be if, in 50 or more years, someone reads the book and says, “Wow, he almost got it right.”

How did you approach engaging the reader in the psychological effects of the crisis affecting your lead character (Simon Bank) whilst keeping a firm handle on the counter-actions of the computer systems themselves?

Riva responds: All authors, well those of us who are not the most talented, rely on a lot of self-revelations and pretend it is the character’s flaws and foibles. Oops, darn, too much revelation…

Two films speculated about what would happen if a computer ‘took control’ over human lives: 2001: A Space Odyssey and War Games; were either of these inspiration for pursuing your own story about the limits of technology and the understanding of effect on our actions?

Riva responds: I thought they had it wrong. I wanted to go another way. A child, carefully reared (no matter if it happens in an instant with Apollo) will choose a path less encumbered by the three laws yet morally based. The problem in War Games is that the computer had to be rogue and mean for the story. In 2001 the intelligence was that HAL was schizoid because of his programmers hard-wiring and input. But that also meant HAL was not a true AI because he could not see the danger in his own programming and remedy it. Once Apollo became “aware” and once Simon shows him The Path, Apollo is in full AI control OF HIMSELF. That’s true awareness.

How did you find a connective thread of interest to knit together Science, Technology and Philosophy whilst remaining true to the genre your story is centred?

Riva responds: No great claim to fame here, just connective tissue in my brain allowing learned facts to sequence themselves to build the story. There was NO plan beforehand.

You’re currently working on the third installment of this series – can you share a small insight about what we can expect to find?

Riva responds: Well, Zip (the dog) may save the day. Another world will be absolutely not the same as Earth, right down to DNA. There’s the issue Simon will have to deal with.

Which writers would you suggest to readers who would like to continue reading stories such as yours, where there is a paradigm of thought and change set in the not-as-far-off future?

Riva responds: I always advise friends to read “otherness” stories, not fantasy as that does not allow for much connectivity into what is all around you now, but stories that stretch current boundaries. Orson Scott Card’s Alvin series started out well. Anything by Brin of course. The early Heinleins were very futuristic to land you into today’s world as were HG Well’s stories (“Wow, he almost got it right.”). And then you need to read publications like AvWeek and Wired to see what the technology future could bring…

What do you think is the greatest benefit of Science Fiction and the progressive nature of the genre?

Riva responds: Stretching the collective conscious has always been the end benefit of good Sci-Fi. Read it and they will open their eyes… see a possible new future.

Is there any part of technology inside your series you’d like to see translate into the modern world? What do you think would be the benefit of it’s engagement?

Riva responds: Energy abundance without pollution. Atomic energy seemed to promise that when I was a kid, now we know better (there is no safe place to put the waste). What will come? Maybe, in my lifetime, more solar conversion in arid, unused land (remember that 400 square miles of sun-drenched nothingness could produce ALL the electricity needed in N. America – if only the oil industry would permit it).

Without addressing the philosophical inquiries and thought-provoking thesis’s contained inside the Tag series, what type of reader do you think would appreciate this series the most? A traditional science fiction reader or one who reads across multiple genres and styles of literature?

Riva responds: I think that intelligent readers always read across all genres. Poetry, fiction, non-fiction… in the end this is communication. I would hope that The Path would appeal to any reader who wants to fathom the hypotheses as written and then extrapolate their own opinion and, perhaps, change their perceptions of the world around us.

Aside from researching your novels and writing them, what renews your spirit the most?

Riva responds: Love of family, and I include our dogs, and – always – learning something new. I cannot live unless I am learning something new.

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About Peter Riva

Peter Riva

Peter Riva has worked for more than thirty years with the leaders in aerospace and space exploration. His daytime job for more than forty years has been as a literary agent. He resides in New York City.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 2 May, 2016 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Cyberpunk, Dystopian, Fly in the Ointment, Hard Science Fiction, Human & Computer Interfaces, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Science Fiction

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One response to “Double Showcase: Review & Interview | “The Path” (Tag series, No.1) by Peter Riva with an interview with the author on behalf of his Cyberpunk series! #FuellYourSciFi

  1. Peter

    Oh, Jorie, I am sad… you missed the whole point. You think “God” is removed from The Path and Reaching Angelica? How mistaken you are. If you mean religion, well, yes, that is purposely absent (not removed!)… but the greater consciousness, the greater collective good, the spirit all are manifest in both books – in fact the stories depend on that real connection to something unfathomable, greater than us all.
    I am truly sorry you gave up reading because you feared faith was removed from the stories. Unfortuneately, that was not, and is not, my intent.

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