Book Review: The Candidate – They go to your core

Christian J. MeierThe candidate – They aim at your innerstesdpunkt.verlag/Polarise, November 2021416 pages, from €9.99 (digital and print)ISBN: 978-3-947619-61-0
With this plot, the science journalist and author Christian Meier takes us into the future of the year 2041, which is shaped by artificial intelligence, climate change and pandemics, in his tech thriller "The Candidate – They aim at your innermost being".

Between present and future

Christian Meier doesn't just fantasize about something here. He knows exactly what he is writing about. As a longtime science journalist and RiffReporter (a cooperative for free journalism), he regularly writes about the opportunities, pitfalls and abysses of artificial intelligence. His journalistic work keeps him in and out of research laboratories. What he gets to see there, he incorporated into this thriller – and took it a little further without drifting off into the utopian. One can indeed imagine the future as described in the book.
The author does not limit himself to aspects of artificial intelligence. He tackles many of today's hot topics. For example, the book is consistently about the restrictions on (future) life caused by ever new variants of contagious viruses, and about how man-made climate change is turning Germany and especially Berlin, where the thriller mainly takes place, into tropical places. Meier also addresses national tendencies and the danger of a shift to the right as a counter-movement to the restrictions imposed by government measures to combat pandemics and climate change. The lateral thinking movement says hello here. The topic of digitization and artificial intelligence hovers over all of this.
Sophie König wants to drive to a meeting and wonders if it's worth the kilometers that are deducted from her personal mobility account. As soon as she has decided to travel, her personal, digital assistant unsolicited suggests taking a detour, because there are fewer people on the longer route, which reduces the risk of infection with a new virus variant that has broken out to infect.

Pleasantly clear language

The skill with which the author "further spins" these current topics in the best sense of the word makes the book extremely readable. But his language is also impressive. There is an eloquence that runs through the entire work that one should not necessarily expect from a science journalist. Despite the overall rather technical background noise, there are no complicated expressions and no boxed sentences. Christian Meier uses a pleasantly simple and clear language. Just for fun, I had a text analysis tool from the Internet – presumably AI-based – analyze a text excerpt from his book: Meier’s text performed significantly better than this review.
The clear structure of the book is also pleasing: The individual chapters are relatively short, so that you can easily read one, two or even three chapters before going to bed.

Clear recommendation: definitely read

For everyone who likes the sci-fi thriller genre, "The Candidate" is therefore a clear reading recommendation! But those who just want to get a glimpse of what our future might look like should pick up this entertainingly written thriller. A touch of sex appeal and brutality delivers the desired thrill.
As I read, I caught myself thinking that one day this book could be made into a film. At least it wouldn't surprise me.
Gerhard Samulatist Press Officer at the German Physical Society (DPG)
[note d. Red.: The dpunkt.verlag as publisher of the book is part of the Heise Group]

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