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The Affinities    by Robert Charles Wilson order for
by Robert Charles Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Robert Charles Wilson (author of Spin, Julian Comstock Darwinia and Burning Paradise) can always be counted on for an engaging and thought provoking read. He gives us that and more in The Affinities, which looks at how social media mapping might evolve - and change everything.

In our near future, InterAlia develops genetic, brain-mapping and behavioral techniques to test for compatibility with one of twenty-two Affinity groups. If there's a match (which is not guaranteed), the individual is invited to join a tranche (of thirty people who, though diverse physically, racially, socially and psychologically are compatible on deep levels, creating an immediate and intuitive rapport).

After Grammy's death, Adam Fisk is alienated from his family (aside from his young stepbrother Geddy, with whom he shares 'Stories big enough to hide inside') and unable to afford to pursue his studies. He takes the InterAlia tests and his life changes - he's a Tau. The Affinity gives him a new, large family, a job, instant friends, and a lover. He enters 'a house full of kind and generous voices.'

Seven years later, there's conflict between Affinities (whose influence is growing worldwide), in particular the collaborative Tau's and hierarchical Het's. As this 'fight for the future of the Affinities' progresses, Het is winning. And Adam is in the middle of it, embroiled in a family reunion, a kidnapping and escalating violence. But, as his world starts to fall apart, he realizes that something else is happening, 'a whole new world being born.' Highly recommended!

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