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The Delphinus Chronicles

Richard G Roane

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Cherry Hill Publishing

Published : 2002

Copyright : Richard G Roane 1998

ISBN-10 : HB 0-9723298-0-3
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-9723298-0-4

Publisher's Write-Up

The year is 1641, and the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion disintegrates on the treacherous Abrojos Reef, carrying the largest treasure ever lost by the Spanish Crown to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. For years to come, Spanish maritime folklore will recount the story of a school of dolphins that came to the aid of the five hundred souls that went down with the Concepcion, saving some one hundred and ninety from their watery deaths.

Years later, water droplets bead on a damp cinder block wall in the basement of an obscure little college in Southern California. Periodically, the silence of the room is rippled by a string of bleeps, clicks and whistles that seem to come from somewhere behind the wall. The ripples dissipate, and the silence returns. The next sound is the gentle electronic flutter of a massive supercomputer that awakens to train its ultra-sensitive microphone circuitry--waiting for the next ripple.

It was no surprise when Simon, the world’s most powerful supercomputer, successfully learned to communicate with humans shortly after being retired to tiny Cabrillo University in San Diego. After all, Ross Erricson and his misfit band of students had done their homework well, anticipating just about every possible outcome of their experiment.

Just about, that is.

It turns out that the school is adjacent to a famous San Diego aquatic amusement park, and their innocent project soon spirals into a torrent of unintended consequences—ultimately threatening to unravel Society as we know it.

The Delphinus Chronicles…

Be careful what you ask...for you may not like the answer.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (190103) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
You know that supposition that dolphins, whales and pigs are almost as intelligent as people? (Although a dog lover, even I cannot claim that dogs are really that clever. Although the Labradors that I know seem bright but their talents actually lie in blackmail and extortion, and if they know that they were walked once today and it is snowing at the moment, you still cannot reason with them!) Well, this book takes the theory a step further.

It all starts with Ross Ericsson, a lecturer at Cabrillo University, a small college trying for, and getting, an ex-military supercomputer (Simon) on the basis that they wish to use it to investigate the ability of an artificially intelligent being to learn language.

As an artificial intelligence, the commands used to tell the computer what to do need to be kept deliberately vague in order that it isn’t limited in any way. This lack of limitation means that they effectively did not tell the computer that they wanted it to concentrate on human language, so when it starts listening to the dolphins in the nearby aquatic park, it not only learns dolphin communication but is able to speak to them.

It is a very eloquent book, we see how the college acquire the computer and the background that allows for the interaction between man, computer and dolphins. The story is reasonably complicated, because we see not only the college people and their stories, but also we meet a not very nice man, the man who would subvert the developing relationship between the men and the dolphins.

I suppose that people like that exist in literary tomes just as they exist in real life, because they make us appreciate that not everyone is nice, and sometimes nice people are thrown up against the not-so-nice in order that they become better people.

The people in the story are nice, there is no doubt about it, but they are not particularly well fleshed out. This is not a harsh criticism, because they are all equally well finished, and theirs are not really the main themes of the book, but I did not feel particularly attached to them at the end of the story. Maybe it was just because I was so enchanted by the development of the relationship with the dolphins, that in contrast I paid less attention to the humans.

It would seem that the wisdom of the dolphins is kept alive by the telling, and the whole of history is available to them from their own watery perspective. This is a really interesting idea, but when the people become aware of this, they ask when was the Suez Canal opened, a watery enough question I would have thought, the dolphins answer with the correct year, this confused me somewhat, given the fact that they would be aware of years, but the beginning of the Christian calendar would surely be of no interest to them. It is not made clear quite how much of the dialogue is being interpreted by the computer and so I’m assuming this information is provided by Simon based on what the dolphins are actually saying. However, this is really just a small niggle that, if accepted, isn’t a problem.

I understand from the blurb that the author is an ex-naval person, and it really shows in his knowledge of the sea and scuba diving. He would seem to have a wide-ranging knowledge of the lore surrounding the oceans, with shipwrecks and stories of Atlantis, he has brought all of this to his book, and mixed it all up in an extraordinary way. I would be curious to know what he will come up with next.

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone, it is really quite an intriguing idea that RG Roane has come up with, and it left me with a really nice feeling. It would be a shame for me to give away too much of the story, because the revelations of the dolphins would be better off within the structure of the book, but it was so nice that the story ends with a huge benefit to mankind, beyond being able to talk with another sentient species.
Chrissi (19th January 2003)

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