Panacea Genesis, by L. Ana. Ellis
How have you been? Have you come across any new favourite reads lately?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Panacea Genesis, a new science fiction novel by L. Ana. Ellis.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Panacea Corp, a vast technological company with ties to many industries is now under the direction of a new, much more ruthless company president who has designed a new virtual human technology. This new technological development soon proves to be unstable and is shortly due for release. These virtual human presences will be used to take over job roles for their owners, including – if the new president of Panacea Corp has his way – vice-president Mariela Stafford’s role.
Meanwhile, Mariela intends to embark on an expedition to a remote place known as Area 52, to inspect a server farm which stores information on the Panacea metaverse. It is her hope that more recent and dangerous goings on involving the new virtual human presences can be remedied by removing specific code from said server farms. While the expedition to Area 52 doesn’t quite go to plan, neither does Mariela’s situation with her new boss and his own virtual doppelganger.
Will Mariela’s planned expedition be a success, or will it fail spectacularly?
Of the characters involved, the following five seemed to have the most important roles in the story: Mariela, Liam, Amaya, Cooper, and Hank.
Mariela Stafford, vice-president of Panacea Corp was an admirable character in many ways. Not only was she inquisitive, intelligent and deeply caring in her own way but she was also sneaky when she needed to be, in order to progress her goals. However, she also initially came across as a bit judgemental, lecturing people on their life choices, or otherwise pushing people away when they got too close for comfort. In a way, I could relate to Mariela on a deep level as I know how it feels to fear intimacy and closeness when you feel you must always keep your walls up in order to remain strong. Furthermore, Mariela was a character that had to make a lot of difficult decisions, even if choosing one option meant hurting someone close to her for the seemingly greater good. Although I didn’t warm to Mariela at first, I soon came to view her as complicated yet also as a strong and truly remarkable individual.
On the other hand, Liam (the new CEO of Panacea Corp) appears arrogant, ruthless in his ways, and rather cold emotionally. He proved himself to be particularly underhanded, much like his new LP100 ghost double. While Liam plays the part of being polite and civil in the company of others, it is all but for show, subtly masking his more devious and narcissistic sense of self. It was easy to dislike his character as any redeeming qualities he had seemed to melt almost as soon as they were made apparent.
Next, we come to Amaya, an unchipped computer-systems professional who at first seems quiet and contemplative, with a good head for problem-solving. Therefore, she makes an excellent leader for Mariela’s expedition. Her deeply caring nature warmed me to her immediately and made her appear more approachable as an individual. However, Amaya also hides a secret, one which – if exposed – could drastically alter people’s views of her.
Next, we come to Cooper, a reclusive ex-university professor who proved himself to be highly intelligent, artistic, and deeply sensitive, especially to criticism. He seemed to prefer the company of art or animals to humans, which I found perfectly understandable. He often seemed tense and curt around Mariela, which was soon explained as they share an albeit brief romantic history. He appeared to be the thoughtful and reflective type and was particularly protective over Mariela, clearly never having shaken his past feelings for her. Overall, I initially didn’t care for his character, however, upon learning more about the reasons for his initial crass behaviour, I came to empathise with him and to see him as a somewhat sweet and sensitive individual who had simply been suffering from a great loss.
Finally, we come to Hank, a most immature and impulsive individual, whose competitive streak often puts him at odds with others in the expedition team. He didn’t seem like someone I would trust and often displayed needless aggressive tendencies which put others around him on edge. It would be safe to say that Hank was one of the more displeasing characters of the story’s main cast, providing the occasional minor interpersonal conflict to help flesh out the main story conflict.
There were many positives to Panacea Genesis, which I’ve detailed in a bulleted list below:
- The story opens with a fitting quote which sums up one of its core themes-
‘Am I the master of technology or is technology the master of me?’
- The author has created a fascinating world, with chip implants, server farms, virtual people, and full digital worlds which people spend their lives inhabiting.
- I liked how the author explored how technology has such a profound impact on people’s everyday lives.
- I also liked how the author hinted at the deeper personal issues of the main characters without saying anything outright. These hints pulled me in, making me want to know more about the character’s backstories.
- I found the chipped vs unchipped dilemma to be interesting; people like Hank seemed prejudiced against the unchipped individuals in the story such as Cooper and this made me want to find out why.
- Furthermore, learning about the main character’s pasts (especially Mariela and Cooper’s) added a certain richness to their characters and helped me to empathise with them.
- There were also a lot of intriguing surprises in the story, which I didn’t see coming.
- Finally, there were some profoundly emotional scenes included, especially toward the end of the book. These tugged on my heart-strings and made for a far more memorable reading experience.
There were numerous inspiring quotes contained within Panacea Genesis, the following five of which seemed the most significant.
1) ‘Am I the master of technology, or is technology the master of me?’
2) ‘People of the past thought they wanted to conquer the physical world, but what they really wanted was to be distracted from it.’
3) ‘Sometimes I feel the loneliest when I’m surrounded by people.’
This felt like a particularly important and relatable quote as modern technology has – in many ways – disconnected us from each-other. In contrast, true connection helps us not to feel lonely in this way.
4) ‘We spend most of our time with people who aren’t like us, pretending to be something we aren’t.
5) ‘It’s the siren call of advanced technology – you can’t live with it, but you also can’t live without it.’
Overall, Panacea Genesis was a wonderful and gripping sci-fi novel that explored the impact of futuristic technology on people’s everyday lives.
Themes included technology, invasion of privacy, family, and deception.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of sci-fi novels that ask important questions about the role of technology in our lives.
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