Amped is a science fiction novel by American author Daniel H. Wilson published in June 2012. In a near-future where the Neural-Autofocus and other neural implants made formally mentally challenged individuals into equals or superiors to those with normal brain functionality (either through medical necessity or elective surgery) the world of 29-year-old Taylor Allderdice High School teacher is thrown into a downward spiral when the Supreme Court rules that implanted individuals are no longer a protected class. In his run from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Eden, Oklahoma, Owen begins to discover that his father, one of the surgeons who helped perfect the Neural-Autofocus, gave him something beyond a basic, medical implant to stop his epileptic seizures, he implanted him with an implant that links him with some of the most wanted, dangerous men in all of America.
Mentally disabled and deficient children of the near-future became normal and even smarter than "normal" through the implantation of neural implants. Scientists and surgeons finally provide epileptics and children with learning and other mental and learning disabilities a chance at a normal life. Many of these implants were even provided to children of impoverished families in rural areas. Many other children receive the implant as elective surgery.All seems to be well with the implants and those implanted around the world.
Owen Gray, a 29-year-old high school teacher at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tries to prevent the suicide of one of the first children to receive the implant, a girl whom he taught in third grade, when she received her implant, and now taught as her high school teacher, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to declare that implanted individuals are not a protected class of citizen.
With the Supreme Court decision, masses of non-implanted human beings, rallied behind pure human pride groups, who see the implanted individuals as amplified human beings, or (the derogatory) "Amps" turn on them and begin mass discrimination. Owen experiences this first-hand as his belongings are summarily tossed out into the street by his landlord and he finds himself, per his slain father's wishes, emptying his bank account and making his way to a trailer park in Eden, Oklahoma, the site of one of the federally sponsored "Uplift Program" series of implantations.
En route, he discovers that he is being hunted along with four dishonorably discharged, implanted soldiers suspected of involvement in the bombing of the Pure Human Citizens Council's (PHCC) headquarters. However their leader, Senator Joseph Vaughn, is unharmed, as he leads anti-Amp rallies and pushes congress and the rest of the government toward stricter legislation and laws against Amps. Indeed, many disconnected elements point to an ultra-militant wing of the PHCC called ElisiuM (EM).
Upon arriving in Eden and taking a menial construction job, along with other, mostly rehabilitated former soldiers, amps, Owen witnesses more violence against the Amps by regular humans, that Amps call "regies." Owen meets the engineer who designed his and twelve other militarized amps. These allow the amped individual to better connect with their own body and autonomic systems, to know and understand martial arts, military strategy, military tactics, weapons, and enhanced senses toward preservation, and learns that his father implanted one of these in his own head after a traumatic childhood accident. Owen also meets several other residents of Eden including Lyle Crosby, the former leader of Echo Squad, the disgraced military unit that received these military implants and his beautiful sister, a regie who stayed in Eden with the other Amps and adopted one of the Amp children, Nick, whose parents abandoned him with the Supreme Court ruling.
From interactions with Lyle and others, Owen learns that his implant, when engaged and given permission to activate at the militarized levels, not only grants him abilities like his militarized brothers, but also could turn him into a killer, but, ultimately it only amplifies Owens own personality leaving him with the question for himself, "Am I a killer?"
Through twists and turns, this novel explores the questions of what it means to be human and what elements do we really all possess within ourselves as human beings.
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