In the tradition of H. G. Wells and Isaac Asimov, K.B. Shaw’s From the Shadows piques the reader’s imagination. In the world where Cameron Rush, a shy, geeky boy from Wisconsin, and Rosa Costas, the bright, sassy daughter of a New Mexico ranch foreman, live, twenty-first-century technology makes a quantum leap and changes the nature of human experience.
Sounds amazing, right? This new technology could take tailgating to a new level. Seriously, what could possibly go wrong?
Only, Robert K. Merton’s law of unintended consequences still prevail. So, there is that…
Fifteen-year-old Cameron and Rosa have never met in person. However, they know each other well, as they met in a chat room, and talk daily on their multiComs. The couple takes GundTech’s multiCom technology — computers, without cameras, that capture images and display them in a way that allows virtual eye contact among users—for granted. It’s been around forever, well, at least ten years. They also take for granted their personal AIs.
A multiCom computer’s artificial intelligence (known as its AI) allows it to think, have personalities, experience emotions, and develop self-images. Each computer’s AI is unique and requires that the user demonstrate respect and courtesy to get a requested response. Cameron and Rosa understand this — as the rules of operation were clearly explained in the operating instructions. Therefore, they are never surprised when Sam and Vee, their respective multiCom AIs, sometimes add their two bits worth during conversations.
But they never expect to meet the AIs in person.
Unbeknownst to them, Cameron and Rosa were preordained centuries ago to play an integral part in the technological evolution triggered when GundTech’s mysterious creator introduces the Interactive Holographic Transmitter. With the IHT, time and space can be manipulated enabling humans, alone or collectively, to touch, see, hear, and ultimately, smell, and taste events as they happen.
Throughout this complex, fascinating tale, Shaw manages to keep the teen protagonists real and likable. They are “in touch” with their families, community, and school; they tease, flirt, grumble and complain, and impress the reader with their spirit and ingenuity.
In this well-crafted book, the amalgam of speculative fiction with a hint of Gothic eeriness works very well. What happens, to whom, how, and why is the stuff of possibility thinking. Fast-paced and engaging, with no loose ends, From the Shadows provides readers no opportunities to rest or close the book. Here’s a YA novel that’s a good read for any age.