Douglas E. Richards’ Wired Series

Douglas_PrestonAbout the author:

Born: Fort Benning, Georgia, May 7, 1962

Education:

B.A. Microbiology, Ohio State University

M.A. Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin

M.B.A. Business Administration, University of Chicago

Website: http://douglaserichards.com/

Publisher: Paragon Press

Thriller Sub-genre: Techno-thriller

The Simon Review

Every student’s nightmare is to gaze at a question on an exam and have no clue on how to answer it. In circumstances like this wouldn’t it be great to just pop a pill in your mouth and voilà, your brain’s cognitive abilities are amplified in such a way that not only can you answer the question perfectly, but also flawlessly finish the exam in record time knowing that your fellow classmates will be there for the next two hours, sweating bullets, and be lucky to just tweak a passing grade.   Well, if you were a character in Douglas E. Richards’ Wired series, all of this could be a possibility.

The series begins with Kira Miller, a gifted molecular biologist, developing a gene therapy that can temporarily boost human intelligence on a scale that would make Einstein look like a total ignoramus.  To test her therapy, she uses herself as the sole guinea pig; obviously she wanted to avoid the hassle of having to get FDA approval to conduct a study. During her episodes of enhanced intelligence she also found the answers to the Fountain of Youth, a gene therapy for immortality. Needless to say her discoveries ended up causing her more complications than she could ever possibly imagine, as an unknown person of interest managed to discover her findings and stole a few of her ‘magic intelligence pills’ which in turn lead this person to realize that Miller also had the key to immortality as well. Well this unknown person is quite evil and Miller has now become a marked woman and forced into hiding.

This unknown entity then recruited ex-special ops warrior David Desh to capture Kira Miller. Desh is given indisputable evidence that Kira Miller is a dangerous woman that has strong ties to terrorist organizations and must be stopped. Not long after he is recruited, Desh gets captured by Miller who tries to convince him to come over onto her side. Desh must then make a choice on whom to believe, Miller or his superior for whom he has trusted for many years. Trust or the lack of trust as a result of deceptive practices from intelligently enhanced human beings is a running theme throughout the series.

For the most part, the plot in this series is rather cheesy, so the merit of the series does not lie in its storyline but more on Richards’ philosophical viewpoint on the concept of intelligence and what would a future be like if we had the ability to enhance our intelligence. Richards takes the viewpoint that enhanced intelligence would make us more sociopathic with an inclination toward megalomania. For those of us that have been hanging around academia for any length of time, that viewpoint seems like it could be a strong possibility. Richards also takes a stab at the controversial philosophical concept on whether there is or isn’t a God and how a more intelligently enhanced human would reflect on this topic. What I would say is that the series is considerably more thought provoking than it is entertaining and that alone makes it worth reading as long as you have an open mind.

Richards self-published Wired which would eventually hit the NY Times Best Seller List, so for you indie authors out there don’t give up, it does happen.  In general, the series is a techno-thriller/science fiction hybrid as some of the science is way over the top.  The books could be read as standalones.

Simon’s pick:

Most Favorite Novel in the Series-Amped– because the plot was more gripping

Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Wired-since this the only other book so far in the series, by default it would be the least favorite

What about the science? Richards has a M.A in Molecular Biology so he is very familiar with gene therapy and the possibility of being able to enhance human intelligence. However, I am sure he also knows that just simply giving a pill to temporarily change our cognitive abilities is out of the question. Gene therapy for human intelligence would have to be done during embryonic development in order to be successful and the most likely outcome would be that the process would be permanent. Secondarily, the development of the human brain is quite complex requiring numerous genes being turned on and off at the right time and the present day technology is not even close to being able to perform such complicated gene therapy. Additionally, we are still in the infancy stage in understanding how our brains work and far from understanding which genes would be necessary to change in order for the gene therapy to be successful. So at this time, enhancement of human intelligence through gene therapy is really just science fiction.

The Kira Miller Technical Word in Review: Progeria-also known as Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in premature aging in young children. Children with this disease will usually die in their teens usually from cardiovascular disorders or kidney failure. A mutation in the gene known as LMNA is known to be the cause of progeria and it appears that the mutation occurs during embryonic development and is not inherited. The LMNA gene encodes for a protein called prelamin A. Prelamin A has a chemical group attached to it known as a farnesyl group which in turn allows the protein to attach to what is called the nuclear rim. The nuclear rim is part of a cellular structure that is known as the nuclear pore complex which allows large molecules to move to and from the inside of the nucleus to the cytoplasm of the cell. Attachment of prelamin A to the nuclear rim is meant to be temporary as the farnesyl group will be cleaved and prelamin A now becomes lamin A which then becomes part of a matrix known as the nuclear lamina which provides structure as well as regulatory support for the nucleus.   In progeria, the mutated protein will not allow the farnesyl group to be cleaved and prelamin A will stay attached to the nuclear rim. This will result in distortion in the nucleus along with problems in nuclear regulatory processes which in turn leads to considerable disruption in cellular activity.

Children with progeria manifest many symptoms that occur in the elderly such as skin wrinkling, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, loss of eyesight, hip dislocation, muscle degeneration and loss of body fat. They do not, however, show signs of neurodegeneration, cancer susceptibility, or osteoarthritis which are traits also known to be found in the elderly. Recently Haley Okins, a young English woman, died  from progeria at the age of 17.

Progeria
Girl with progeria – Wikimedia Common

“I also took DNA samples from people who suffer from a rare aging disease called progeria.  By the age of twelve progerics look and sound like elderly people.”

Desh shook his head sympathetically.  “I’ve heard about that.  What a horrible disease.”

He paused.  “Can I at least assume their DNA was illuminating?”

“Very.  It lead directly to the breakthrough I needed,” she said.  “I had been studying everything I could find on the molecular basis of aging for years.  But when I added data on the genetic differences between progeria victims and normals my optimized brain was able to put all the pieces together.”-Wired


Books in the Series by Order:

Most Favorite in the series: Amped with a score of 4.09

Least Favorite in the series: Wired with a score of 3.88

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)

wired2#1 Wired- 2005

Listed #113 out of 552 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

First Line:

Bill Callen extended his silenced Ruger .45 and crept soundlessly toward the woman calling herself Angela Joyce.


Characters

Kira Miller: A gifted molecular biologist that develops a gene therapy that can enhance human intelligence

David Desh: An ex-special ops warrior assigned to capture Kira Miller

Matt Griffin: Computer hacker

Jim Connelly: David Desh’s former commanding officer and friend

Ross Metzger: Special ops general and friend of Connelly’s

Allan Miller: Kira Miller’s brother


The Setting

North Carolina, and San Diego


Kira Miller is a brilliant genetic engineer who discovers how to temporarily achieve savant-like capabilities in all areas of thought and creativity. But what if this transcendent level of intelligence brings with it a ruthless megalomania?

David Desh left the special forces after his team was brutally butchered in Iran. Now he has been reactivated for one last mission: find Kira Miller, the enigmatic genius behind a bioterror plot that threatens millions. But when Desh learns that the bioterror plot is just the tip of the iceberg, he is thrust into a byzantine maze of deception and intrigue, and he becomes a key player in a deadly game he can’t begin to understand. A game that is certain to have a dramatic impact on the future course of human history.


“With respect to enhanced intelligence- I don’t know,” said Desh, shrugging.  His eyes narrowed in thought.  “She’s an extraordinary scientist, that’s beyond dispute.  And she weaved a very convincing scientific rationale around the concept.  Autistic savants do exist and do demonstrate what one hundred billion neurons can do when wired slightly different than normal.”


From The Best Bad Reviews:

Kent’s review on Goodreads of Douglas E Richards’ Wired.  Maybe there is a little secret about Niels Bohr that we don’t know about.

the smart pills reminded me of LSD. when the author tries to explain quantum theory in 4 pages of epilogue it’s a lot like LSD.

Wikimedia Common
My dear Albert, I think there is something in those cookies of yours, because it appears that your hair is starting to show wave-like properties.                                       Wikimedia Common

Fred from Goodreads gave Douglas E. Richards’ Wired a two star rating.  Don’t you just hate it when a book forces you to read it until the end.

The author spoon-feeds you the entire story, and then “tries” to throw in a plot twist, then completely nerfballs the happiest of happy endings.

Utter dreck.

Two stars because it did keep me reading, goddammit.

Jon S from Amazon gave Douglas Richards’ novel Wired a one star rating.  Did you actually read the book?

Watch out, if you want to read this across your various Kindle-enabled devices (or share w/ family members’ Kindles) this book is limited to two at a time. May not bother most folks, but if you jump around and read your books across Kindle, phone, PC, Web etc. you will run into this limit.

I can’t find it listed anywhere in the product information, this should be spelled out clearly for the consumer if it’s not the standard 6 concurrent devices.

Sure, it’s only $1, but the fact that this title drove me to call Customer Care and figure out why it wouldn’t load earns it a 1-star review.

Lila from Amazon left this review of Douglas E. Richards’ novel Wired.

When I started reading “Wired”, I thought, “this is going to be good.” After just a few pages, one of the main characters used the “F” word. After only 3 more pages, it happened again. That’s a no-no to me! Too bad, because I think the story would have been a good one! I returned the book to the Prime lending library after reading only a few pages. I’m glad I didn’t waste any money buying it! I wish you could let the author, Douglas E. Richards, know he is losing readers by using bad language. It is totally unnecessary to a story line. Because of using the “F” word in this novel, I will not be reading any more of his books and certainly cannot recommend this book to any one!

soap
Mr. Richards – you know what this means! source: Wikipedia

Looking for a review of Wired?  Check out:

Sciencethrillers

Eye of the Storm

Pure Textuality

Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers

Bruce M. Perrin


Amazon Rating-US: 4.22 out of 5 stars based on 4,417 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.13 out of 5 stars based on 134 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars based on 12,326 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.78 out of 5 stars based on 190 ratings

Total Score 3.88 (updated 10/6/17)

DNA2

 

Amped#2-Amped- 2012

Listed #471 out of 552 on Goodreads Best Technothriller Ever Book List

Listed #144 out of 168 on Goodreads Best Sciencethrillers Book List

First Line:

Kira Miller approached the bulky contraption in the center of an isolated lab in the nuclear physics complex and couldn’t help but smile.


Characters

Kira Miller, David Desh, Matt Griffin, Jim Connelly, and Ross Metzger

Seth Rosenblatt: Scientist recruited by Desh & Miller


The Setting

North Carolina, Kentucky, Omaha, Denver, and San Diego


Kira Miller is a brilliant scientist who discovers how to temporarily boost human IQ to dizzying levels. But this transcendent intelligence brings with it a ruthless megalomania. Determined to use her discovery to propel human civilization to a higher plane, despite this side effect, Kira and ex-special forces operative David Desh recruit a small group of accomplished scientists, all of whom are safely off the grid. Or so they think . . .

Soon Kira and her team are fighting for their lives against unknown but powerful adversaries. Worse still, while on the run and being relentlessly attacked from all quarters, Kira comes across evidence of savage acts that the enhanced version of Desh kept hidden, even from himself. Now both she and Desh must question everything they think they know. Can they trust each other? Can they even trust themselves?

And all the while, the greatest threat of all may be coming from an entirely unexpected direction. A threat that could lead to devastation on a global scale. And time is quickly running out . . .


“I wasn’t going to eliminate you,” said Desh. “Just stun you.”

“What if I was amped?-what you called enhanced.”

“Even with perfect control of your body, you can’t stop electricity,” replied Desh.  “The stun gun would have worked.  I’ve used myself as a guinea pig to make sure.”


Looking for a review of Amped?  Check out:

Book Nook Club

Flights of Fancy

SF Book Reviews


Amazon Rating: 4.41 out of 5 stars based on 1,340 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.52 out of 5 stars based on 23 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.01 out of 5 stars based on 5,314 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.89 out of 5 stars based on 35 ratings

Total Score 4.09  (updated 10/6/17)

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