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John F. X. Sundman, Acts of the Apostles. Self-published: USA. (1999) ISBN 192975213X (alternate, search)

From the back cover...

As American led forces assemble in Kuwait for the largest military operation since Normandy, computer chip designer Todd Griffith discovers a secret function buried within the Kali computer chip. That night he is shot in his bed.

Five years later, burnt-out software engineer Nick Aubrey boards a "red-eye" flight to Boston and winds up seated next to a very disturbed man who claims to know the secret of Gulf War Disease. Over Utah, Nick's chance companion meets his dramatic demise--and the police suspect Nick of murder. In freeing himself from a web of murder, deceit, and double-crosses, Nick comes to learn that the key to the secret of Gulf War Syndrome resides in a pharmaceutical laboratory in Basel Switzerland, where scienteists are frantically working on submicroscopic machines to rearrange human DNA. Only Nick can stop them. But first he's going to have to find the Trojan Horse hidden in the Kali computer chip. He can't do that without Todd's help, and Todd's been in a coma for nearly half a dozen years.

See also,

It has a sequel of sorts called [Cheap Complex Devices] that is purposefully confused and muddled up with the first. Even the authors' names are muddled. This is definitely something you could not do for your first novel without self-publishing.

A techno-thriller on a grander scale than SignalToNoise that plots engineers against suits for the fate of the human race. Nick Aubrey, an OXFAM agriculture expert turned software architect at Digital Microsystems, finds himself touching elbows with the mysteriously self-actualized Chairman of Dijjy Mike, Monty Meekman. Steeped in bankruptcy, a failing marrage, and a deadend carreer, Aubrey finds himself repulsed by Monty's million dollar job offer to join him in global conquest. The trouble is, when playing against self-actualized players like Monty, you just don't say no unless you're willing to face the consequences.

Nick, his superstar scientist estranged wife, his even more estranged suit of a brother, his comatose best friend's ex-lover, a Gulf War veteran cop that wants revenge, and a number of players higher up Maslow's hierarchy than Nick interlock in a fight to make the CyborgManifesto happen sooner rather than later--and in Monty's favour. Genetic-engineering, silicon, and conspiracy take us from the Gulf War Syndrome to Frank Zappa right to VannevarBush?'s future.

This book is well-written, there's no doubt about it. For those who like a good thriller, it's definitely a page turner, and Sundman turns an impressive phrase quite frequently. The plot threads are woven thick as moehair too, giving it appeal to those who would like a brainier entry in this new genre. It's amazing to me Sundman had to self-publish it, and it shows occasionally in the polish, but on the other hand, he didn't have to dumb it down for the Wired crowd. It appeals to an audience comfortable within the computer industry, not just watching it from the sidelines. The allusions to real life players are obvious, especially considering Sundman's tenure as Software Architect at Sun Microsystems, even if a bit strained at some points. Then again, the drawback is that as a nerdly novel, women are always hot and horny in this novel, which really gets pointlessly silly after awhile, but maybe you like that sort of thing.

I'd highly recommend this book looking for a good global conspiracy plot. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for a novel that suits the industry subculture. It doesn't hurt that it's self-published, and I heard about it by word of mouth after RustyFoster [reviewed] it on KuroShin. I think that self-publishing of this calibre should be encouraged. Excellent.

Besides, I want everyone to finally know why Java is evil. I told you so! -- SunirShah

The entire book is available now for electronic download in PDF form, along with the sequel. The the home-page for more details (and buy the book if you like it). My only excuse is that I'm currently unemployed. -- DerekWoolverton?



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