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Syne Mitchell
Roc Books, 328 pages

Syne Mitchell
Syne Mitchell started college when she was 13, and graduated summa cum laude at age 15 with a B.S. in Business Administration. She then went on to major in physics in graduate school at Florida State University. She works as a programmer-writer at Microsoft writing developer documentation. She is married to SF writer Eric Nylund.

Syne Mitchell Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Changeling Plague
SF Site Review: Murphy's Gambit

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

Nobody geeks like Syne Mitchell.

A Seattle web developer with a Master's degree in solid-state physics, Mitchell knows her technical stuff, but the thing that makes Technogenesis rock is her unerring feel for the people who populate the computer universe. From university researchers to corporate software developers to hackers, Mitchell paints her characters vividly and realistically.

Jasmine Reese is brilliant, and even better she's a "natural." As her boss says: "You slip into network protocols like the computer's clock cycle is the beating of your own heart." Jaz spends all her waking hours connected to the net, and most of them working at her job as a "data miner" for a software company.

But when her top-of-the-line data mask breaks down, this arrogant workaholic is unwillingly thrust into a real Seattle where she can't go anywhere or do anything without a connection -- she can't even switch on her own apartment lights. It's a frustrating and unpleasant experience, which quickly turns alarming when she starts to notice that the crowds of connected people around her act as if they're being controlled by some intelligence.

As a homeless man whispers to her: "the beast is watching" -- and when Jaz notices, the beast notices Jasmine. Now it is trying to stop her from sharing her discovery with anyone else.

This is a brisk, atmospheric set-up for a clever novel about humans, technology, society and artificial intelligence. There's lots of solid technical detail and social observation in here, but what drives Technogenesis is Jaz -- a flawed and sometimes irritating protagonist who is up against scary and increasingly complex problems, including a shadowy government organization that kidnaps and blackmails her, a secret group of university researchers she must infiltrate, and ultimately an artificial intelligence named "Gestalt" which may be the best thing ever to happen to humanity -- or the worst.

Jaz doesn't know who to trust or believe, and neither does the reader, which keeps the suspense high right through to the fast-paced conclusion of this book. This is an unusual hard SF novel -- full of cool gizmos and cyberspeak, but also populated by strong, believable characters and driven by real human dilemmas. This novel is definitely a keeper.

Copyright © 2003 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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