The Noise Within by Ian Whates

8/10 Thoroughly enjoyable space opera.

On the brink of perfecting the long sought-after human/ AI interface, Philip Kaufman finds his world thrown into turmoil as a scandal from the past returns to haunt him and dangerous information falls into his hands. Pursued by assassins and attacked in his own home, he flees. Leyton, a government black-ops specialist, is diverted from his usual duties to hunt down the elusive pirate vessel The Noise Within, wondering all the while why this particular freebooter is considered so important.

Like I mentioned in my review of Neal Asher’s “Gridlinked”, I have not had the opportunity to read that many sci-fi novels for Fantasy Book Review, but that it always has been a genre that has appealed highly to me. Gridlinked really wetted my appetite and I saw “The Noise Within” in the line-up of Solaris and they kindly provided me with a review copy. From the blurb the human/AI interface part really caught my attention. Adding a certain high tech yet thrilling element to the space opera story. The Noise Within is the first book of the Noise series and debut written by Ian Whates.

The Noise Within begins with a pretty impressive first chapter in which you get to meet up with Leyton, a black-ops specialist/assassin for ULAW (United League of Allied Worlds). It is by introducing high-tech gear: like his gun, which I later found out was somewhat AI controlled and talking about augmentation on human really got me hooked from the start. Added to this was the attitude of Leyton that was just cool and controlled and turned his character for me into what you expect of a black-ops guy. Later when you see Leyton appearing in the story he has some other neat tools, like the shimmer suit. But do not think that Leyton's story only revolves around carrying out his job, no more on the contrary there is much more added in terms of enlarging the world that Leyton inhabits and what happens in those surroundings. Though he is still quite adept at carrying out his job! I do have one small remark about his personality and something that you do see popping up quite frequent and that is that Leyton’s character does also have a more weak side and this is shown in the end of the book. Where he pursues a stranger to help a loved one.

The other character that took up most of the story was Philip Kaufman, whose company created The Sun Seeker, an AI controlled spaceship, that went missing during the war but is now returning, enhanced with technology few can understand. Philip was the one part that I enjoyed reading the most about. Due to just a few events Philip all of a sudden has a lot more on his plate that he can handle, with assassination attempts behind every corner. Just like Leyton, Philip also has a few things about him the AI and partial technology and Syntheaven, a specific drug. It is with this technology and the task that has been set for him that he is trying set right the wrong done with The Sun Seeker turned The Noise Within. This part of the story does play part in the bigger lines of the story but there is also enough space reserved to highlight the minute details of Philips surrounding. There is chapter in the book where Philip turns “tourist”, where you get to see much more of the universe that makes up the book by going to different places and highlighting their features and surroundings. Other cool additions were “The Death Wish”, where Philip was on a hit list, the chase of Philip on the highway and of course the whole AI tech part.

When I read sci-fi and AI makes an appearance it is just becoming natural for me to distrust them. Somehow AI does not lie easy on my mind, how can you trust a computer? I was very pleased that the emphasis was not solely on AI but taking a human and combining it with an AI part. This just adds another level to this part of the story, much more creepier than I first thought it was supposed to be. And this latter part was neatly shown in the goings on in the The Noise Within and what happened to several people of The Lady J. Also another great plus of the story was that the AI of The Noise Within remained more in the background and you did not quite know when something would happen. And once there was a highlight of the inner workings of the The Noise Within, it was just awesome.

All in all The Noise Within was for me a great book to start of the New Year. This being one of the few space opera book that I have read so far, it did have a great premise and I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Showing on one side the sophisticated technology, introducing an advanced alien concept all in a greater whole, but also paying enough attention and highlighting the small things like the surrounding of the characters that you follow throughout the story. The Noise Within leaves you on two sort-of cliff-hanger moments, one being with Leyton and the other with an somewhat altered Philip… The Noise Within is definitely worth to read!

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