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His criminal past catching up with him, a troubled young man seeks escape into digital utopia by uploading his consciousness into a computer -- just as first love casts his life in a new light. In this thrilling near-future science-fiction novel, Mark McClelland explores the immense potential of computer-based consciousness and the philosophical perils of simulated society.
Mark McClelland’s Upload is a troubling, difficult novel. The protagonist is by no standards a hero, and the world he lives in is both probable and disturbing. Set in 2060, the story focuses on a lab working to successfully upload organic consciousness into the digital world. Raymond Quan, the novel’s focus, is a brilliant, self-contained man with a dark past and a self-serving outlook. Attempting to escape from a messy world into the digital paradise he has designed, Raymond wants to prematurely upload his own consciousness and has no problem manipulating and using others in the process.
The story is split into two parts, however. The first deals with Raymond’s meticulous planning and execution, up until the moment of his uploading. The reader gets to know the character in all his flaws: his pride, selfishness, and cruelty. They watch while he heartlessly chooses his own happiness over the needs and desires of others. However, the book’s second half deals with Raymond’s realization of his own evilness. Placed into a world he expected to be utopia, Raymond recognizes the darkness of the creator through his creation. Faced with his innate vileness, Raymond is forced to make a decision: continue pleasing himself and gratifying his own desires, or become a part of something greater?
While this novel posed some interesting ideas, it was a very uncomfortable read. Sort of like Lord of the Flies with nudity. Not that the language or sexual content was out of control in Upload; rather the world and characters themselves lacked the innocence of the children in William Golding’s novel. Reader should brace themselves for a story that is a little too realistic to be comfortable, and complicated questions that won’t be easily answered.