Dean S. Warren

Xlibris / 244 pages / July 2001

ISBN: 0738865613

In the thirty-third century, rule by a man/computer hybrid has become a nightmare. Billions seethe, waiting for the slightest chance to overthrow the Minds that control them and have made life unbearable for centuries. Until now, no one has come along who has presented any hope for destroying these human brains who join with the computers to become all-powerful and monstrous in their appetites.

Out of these billions comes one man, the sole survivor of an ancient and honoured family, daring to take on the vast power of the Minds. Tol is determined to break the Minds crushing hold on humanity or die in the attempt. Looking at the situation in a coldly logical light, the latter appears the most likely conclusion. Tol knows the risks, he simply isn’t willing to give up on the plan.

Actually, ‘plan’ might be a bit inaccurate; most of the time, Tol is operating with less of a plan than a determination. Much of the time, he even seems to be working against the people who are ostensibly on his side. If nothing else, Tol is a man with an exceptionally strong will and an amazingly thick skull.

Man Over Mind plays out as a contest of wills as much as it is a test of mental dexterity. Tols’ war against the Minds is a fascinating learning process with a deadly consequence for failure. How he discovers paths into and around the defenses of the Minds is like a maze with occasional rewards, but always more labyrinth ahead. The process is taut and unpredictable every time. It is this uncertainty that keeps the plot driving forward.

Perhaps, as to be expected in a novel focussing on computers and human beings who have lost their humanity, the characters are the least interesting aspect of Man Over Mind. The story’s requisite beautiful, young woman rarely rises above cut-out status, swinging from one extreme emotion to another. Tol’s friends and supporters fill the necessary roles of an army of rebellion, but progress no further. Even the villainous Minds lack dimension to give them more than Snidely Whiplash style evil.

Obviously, the hard work here went into the complicated plot. Tols’ battles with the Minds are complex and taut, revealing more about the human brain with every encounter. The questions raised about computer logic and the process of the human mind are enough to halt the reader in mid-sentence at times.

Man Over Mind will definitely set your own brain thinking and wondering. You can’t help but wonder though, if it couldn’t have been so much more.