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I remember reading a SciFi or Cyberpunk story some three or four years ago. It was an E-pub and I remember the title containing some color, but I can't seem to find it again.

The story is about some security expert or hacker that is working for a company. The main character get messages from a (deceased?) friend or old colleague, and over time does join a church or cult to try and find out what happened to them. I believe that there was some kind of AI involved.

It is not Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, which I read in dead tree format between 2005 and 2010, and loved. The book was however suggested to someone I knew because I said I liked the Sprawl Trilogy. It also wasn't Virtual Light, which I read around 2013.

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    sounds like more than one william gibson story: he had one story where AI in cyberspace assumeed the roles of dieties from voodoo. not sure about the old friend or colleague.
    – releseabe
    Jun 10, 2023 at 15:46
  • @releseabe I don't think it was Gibson, but you seem to be talking about Mona Lisa Overdrive, part 3 of the Necromancer trilogy. I know it wasn't MLO because I had read that Gibson trilogy in around 2005-2010
    – Trish
    Jun 10, 2023 at 16:13
  • AI + cult + not-dead-guy = Chaos on Catnet?
    – Radhil
    Jun 10, 2023 at 16:40

2 Answers 2

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I finally managed to resurrect the old cellphone that contained the book I was thinking of and found it:

Beautiful Red (2012) by M. Darusha Wehm

The future is boring. Technology has solved the world's most pressing problems, leaving people with tedious work and mundane play. Jack is a Security Officer Class 5, which sounds important, but isn't. However, her banal life as a cubicle worker by day and tinkerer by night is interrupted when she discovers that her employer's computer system has been invaded. Jack enlists the help of her only friends - her co-worker, Gilles and Adrian, an online friend she's never met - to help her track down the source of the invasion. Her investigation leads her to a shadowy group called the Red, where Jack learns that not everyone lives a life of quiet servitude. Even though she believes that the Red are responsible for a series of gruesome attacks, Jack begins to become attracted to their worldview. In her search for the people responsible for the attacks, she confronts the leaders of the group as well as her own burgeoning sense of self-awareness.

The facts of the plot that I remembered match up as follows:

  • The identity of Red is later to be revealed as someone Jack knew.
  • The tidbit about Artificial Intelligence was a single paragraph in chapter 20:

She found some more files tagged “BR”, and quickly scanned through them. It was a strange mix of information. There were some more specs from the European chimpanzee study, several clippings from boards devoted to the creation and study of intelligent agents, some philosophical studies of sentience and old work on creating artificial intelligence. That last grouping was pretty strange. Long ago, scientists had concluded that intelligent agents could only ever achieve sentience though an evolutionary-type process - that only through learning could they become self aware. While it hadn’t happened yet, this was the commonly accepted theory. But Lars had been collecting work from before that theory became common, designs for ways to create fully sentient machines from scratch.

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Not a perfect match but the closest I can think of -

Void Star (2017) Zachary Mason (hardcover + Kindle Ebook)

Except from a review in the Guardian -

The novel’s main character is Irina, a freelance AI-whisperer who is among the few humans who can even vaguely communicate with the computer minds, and who is hired by Cromwell for reasons unclear. Meanwhile Kern, a streetfighter who lives in the favelas that have grown up around LA, is tasked with stealing a phone, and a character called Thales awaits the deterioration of his mind owing to a failing memory implant. Thus set up, the story proceeds by way of short chapters that alternate between the various characters’ points of view. Suspense is generated by the question of how their different trajectories will intersect, or whether they are already doing so under our noses.

It is an enjoyably driving techno-thriller with literary ambition, and as such it may be read as being in close dialogue with the work of SF demigod William Gibson, admirers of whom may see in this novel a lot of influence, even outright homage.

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