Between the ghetto-like existence that humans eke out amidst constant warfare on the home planet, Earth, and the clinically correct, conformist, high-tech civilisation in space, there is a huge, unbridgeable divide of space—and some very heavy security. Enforcing that security falls to the icon spectrums; advanced AIs, able to travel through stretch space with no consequences, and for whose continued psychological stability there is a human observer assigned. When Icon Violet and Icon Yellow are detached from their spectrum to deal with an attempted incursion, for the first time that they remember, they are given full discretion. Do you remember the first time you had to face your own decisions?
The premise of Icon-Violet offers a lot of interesting concepts to consider along with the story; with the question of AI and self-determinism, author Simon Fay brings up whether or not an AI can truly commit murder, or if the onus should be on the person giving them the orders, woven in with the ethics of a refugee situation. I did find, in places, that the amount of internal and external debate on these topics impacted the pacing of the read, as well as the fact that there are few areas where it’s easy to lose track of whose viewpoint the story is being told from: an icon is thought of as an ‘it’, and considers itself to be an ‘it’, so I occasionally found myself backtracking to figure out exactly who I was hearing from. Aside from that, though, this book is emphatically worth the read. The world-building is rock-solid, the characters are well-developed, and the story has a number of relatable elements.