Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Peacemaker

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
“Peacemaker” is the debut novel by author Dan Ronco. Ronco has experience in the software industry so it is with personal knowledge and experience that he crafts the story of artificial intelligence and the future of the technology industry. Ronco presents this novel as what could be a worst case scenario with software terrorism and a future where this could be an issue as serious as nuclear war.

Dianne Morgan is the CEO for VantagePoint Software, the maker of Atlus, the most popular computer operating system in the world and one which is in nearly ninety percent of the world’s computers. This obviously brings to mind a company called Microsoft. Morgan brought to trial by the United States government in an anti-trust lawsuit and her company is broken into smaller companies. This is something that has happened several times in our nation’s history. Her revenge is to unleash a computer virus called Peacemaker. Peacemaker has the capability to infect and shut down nearly every computer on the planet. Her goal: nothing less than global domination. The only man who can stop Peacemaker is Ray Brown, a software developer who helped make Atlus the most popular piece of software on the planet.

The novel becomes something of a cat and mouse game as Ray stumbles across Peacemaker and learns of the scope of this virus which is so sophisticated that it is an artificial intelligence. Dianne Morgan is preparing to unleash Peacemaker on the world and while she needs to stop Ray she also wants to convert Ray to her side since they share a past together.

The concept behind “Peacemaker” with the ideas of software terrorism and the artificial intelligence and just the scope of the issue is fascinating and helps the reader press on through the book because I certainly wanted to know how things played out. The problem is the writing and the characters. The characters seem to be mainly one dimensional and Ray’s inner struggles regarding his alcoholism seem somewhat childish. The other characters are not any better and most are even more one dimensional. Before each chapter there is a one or two quotes from a future newspaper or novel regarding some of the characters. What this does is let the reader know a little bit how the events of this novel will play out and affect the world years down the road. It kind of takes some of the tension out of the book.

Ronco has a good deal of potential as an author because he has one very important gift that can’t be taught: the ability to come up with a very interesting story idea. I have no doubt that his skill as a writer will come as he continues to write. “Peacemaker” was a very fast and easy read, but it is not without some serious flaws in the execution of the novel. It is difficult to recommend “Peacemaker”, but the positive is that the concept behind the novel is a good one.

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