A friend gave me this work of fiction on my birthday last year. He met the author while travelling and started a conversation with him. The book centers on technology and in their conversation, the name of my computer mentor, Steven Talbott came up. It turns out that John is great friends with Steven, thus Scott was handed a copy of this book, signed by John, as a gift for me. It took my over a year to read it, or more accurately, even start it. Lately I have been reading only non-fiction and histories. After dropping out of school, I thought it would be a great change of pace to read this gift.
Technology is the main character of this book. It deals with computer programmers, hardware developers, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, the Genome Project, DNA encoding, biotechnology and how they are all related in some fashion or another to the Gulf War Syndrome, Bill Gates, Saddam Hussein, all of humanity and God. Its right up my alley. In fact, one of the characters in the book gives us a very brief history of the main persons and theories in computer and technological development since its inception and he listed several of the persons and concepts I had just learned about in school. You have to love when synchronicity kicks in.
The story centers on a computer chip call Kali that seems to be the common dominator in many deaths of those who have worked on the project or knew a bit about it. Nick Aubrey, the best friend of the first victim, gets a cryptic email from his friend the evening he is found with a bullet in his skull. This sends him on a world wide journey of intrigue and secret agents right out of a Bond film. In fact, the book often conjures of the image of James Bond, as well as every other thriller cliché and pop culture reference.
I am not into thrillers myself, so what kept me interested was talk of the technological aspect and how humanity is doomed to become slaves to it. John is obviously a pessimistic doomsayer of technology, and has salted his book with references to every major conspiracy theory known. It seems nothing from the AIDS to Heaven is untouched by technology. The Kali chips were designed small enough to drive microscopic robots, or nanites, to be injected into a human being and slowly, re-arrange their DNA to make them become someone else. In this case, a slave or Corporate Fellow, to the most powerful man on the planet, Monty Meekman. Monty is a cross between Jesus and Bill Gates. There is nothing Monty does not know, and often proves his omnipotence with predicting earthquakes and reading one’s thoughts. Thus, it is Monty Meekman Nick and his assorted collection of friends and conspirators are all battling. These include Nick’s estranged wife, a tall, seductive African Amazon named Judith, a cop suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, a punk/hacker girlfriend, a French seductress named Pascal, Nick’s brother Paul and many others, most of whom end up dead.
Again, I do not enjoy thrillers, and in this case, the technology aspect of the book did not help it in the end. And what also did not help this book is the staggering amount of typos and printing errors. Now I am not the best speller, nor have I mastered the grammar of the English language, but never have I seen so many mistakes between the covers of any book.
Overall, the book was a fun read, like sucking down too many malted milk balls. Unfortunately, the author’s pessimism shone through to such a point that his happy ending was nothing but. I wonder if even he realizes that his ending further promoted his pessimistic view of technology and the future of mankind as it and technology continue to become more and more intertwined?