John Marrs takes us into a time just a few years from now. The English government has passed a law prohibiting personal driving of autos. It is a time that self driving cars are being manufactured and promising to do away with the current carnage on the roads. The computers running these cars are programmed to avoid accidents and allow their passengers to safely relax, just program in their destination and enjoy a comfortable and very peaceful trip.
But the author introduces a scenario that could occur and makes for a fascinating read with a situation that should be impossible in a world of accident free auto travel. Eight passengers taking trips in driverless cars are suddenly locked in and told by someone controlling their autos that their destinations have been changed and they will die at the end of the trip. They cannot get out of the vehicles nor can attempts to stop the situation work.
Due to the world wide usage and interest in the new mode of safe driving, plus the speed of current communication, people in countries outside of the U.K. also become spectators of the plight of the eight.
The person or persons in control of the captured autos has placed cameras all over the vehicles allowing viewing of the reactions of those trapped in them by the entire world.
They have introduced the situation of allowing all watching the runaway vehicles to vote on selection of one of those trapped to be saved. Marrs adroitly paints a picture of the voting, and the manner in which the entire matter becomes a contest and almost does away with the idea that seven people will die while only one is allowed to live.
The strength of the book is certainly in the portraits of the reactions to a matter of life and death and how it is handled around the world and most certainly by those trapped in the doomed cars. The actuality of autos driven by computers is currently well within the realm of probability in the near future. The likelihood of outside forces getting control of the vehicles is hopefully very slight, but again the author does an excellent job in setting up the possible reactions of all concerned. Certainly the novel gives some thought for the reader about one set of circumstances and of course, makes for an excellent read.
8/19 Paul Lane
THE PASSENGERS by John Marrs. Berkley (August 27, 2019). ISBN 978-1984806970. 352p.