The Mountain in the Sea

MCD. Oct. 2022. 464p. ISBN 9780374605957. $28. SF
DEBUT A community of intelligent octopuses has been discovered off the southern coast of Vietnam. Access to the animals is tightly controlled by the international corporation DIANIMA, which hopes to study and exploit the octopuses for their development of artificially intelligent androids. They hire Dr. Ha Nguyen, an expert on cephalopods, to lead the research into the octopuses’ language and culture. It quickly becomes clear that DIANIMA’s plans to cash in on the results of Dr. Nguyen’s efforts is not something the octopuses agree with—and no one can foresee what the octopuses will do to make their resistance understood.
VERDICT Drawing on decades of experience in overseas service (including time with the United States Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), Nayler infuses his debut novel with fantastic elements grounded in real contemporary topics and tackles moral issues related to artificial and animal intelligence without sacrificing plot or pacing. This is a classic sci-fi thriller that’s easy to read and will have broad appeal for fans of speculative fiction.
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