Book Review – “The Six”

picture of book

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Mailynn Nguyen, writer

Book by Mark Alpert

Review by Mailynn Nguyen

Readers who like science fiction, and science in general, will enjoy The Six by Mark Alpert. Beginning in the small town of Yorktown Heights, NY, The Six takes you to Colorado and even ventures to Russia and North Korea, diving deeper into the human brain, ethics, and computer science.


In the future, a man named Thomas Armstrong developed software at a level that the world had never seen before. An Artificial Intelligence (AI), called Sigma (the Greek letter for s and the mathematical symbol for sum because it was a sum of many years of hard work and of many different AI technologies), was so powerful that it could delete parts of its own software that it didn’t think it needed. There is one thing Sigma lacks, however, and that is human empathy. Sigma has escaped its “cage”, and its mission is to exterminate mankind.


The only thing that has even a chance at defeating Sigma is an Artificial Intelligence like itself. But Thomas Armstrong, who works for the Army, can’t risk developing another high-tech AI for fear that it’ll be just as lethal as Sigma. Instead, he and his commanders, General Hawke and Colonel Peterson, decide to implement another strategy, the creation of the Pioneers, and the end, six terminally ill teenagers are selected to undergo a procedure never finished successfully before. Nanotechnology will be inserted into these teens’ brains, and it will be transformed into data. So, technically, they become robots, but they still have their human personalities and memories. Will it work? Will they defeat Sigma? Will they… survive?


Mr. Anderson, the Dragon team’s English teacher, recommends the book. “It made me think, it made me feel,” he says. “One of the ‘smartest’ action/science fiction books I’ve read in years.”


Mark Alpert, the author of the book, has also written science-based stories for adults and works for the Scientific American magazine. The Six can be found at the Jefferson library as well as the Arlington Public Library.