Short Take: Zeroes – Chuck Wendig

This one reads like summer blockbuster movie–which belies some of its serious, and seriously scary themes: government hacking and out-of-control software innovation that leads to sentient AI. (A sci fi scenario that pretty much never leads to good things. J) For sci fi readers who aren’t already fans of cult favorite Wendig, this should convert them. It definitely won over the advance reviewers.

Prolific sci-fi novelist and games enthusiast Wendig whips up a Matrix-y bit of old-school cyberpunk updated to meet the frightening technology of the modern age. Government agent Hollis Copper is a tough old guy who’s been seconded to the National Security Agency to round up a bunch of hackers for a secret project…They’re promised clean records if they devote a year to the NSA’s secret lodge, where pods of hackers work together to penetrate high-security networks. Things go awry when they’re charged with disrupting Iran’s nuclear program by co-opting an Iranian drone and accidentally discover a secret NSA program called Typhon and the disappearance of 13 prominent theorists. The “Zeroes” find themselves pawns in a conflict among their government captors, a renegade hacker called The Widow of Zheng, and Typhon, a sentient artificial intelligence which is growing in power and influence with every passing minute… This is an ambitious, bleeding-edge piece of speculative fiction that combines hacker lore, wet-wired horror, and contemporary paranoia in a propulsive adventure that’s bound to keep readers on their toes.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Wendig piles on the thrills and chills in this fast-paced near-future novel about human frailty and inhuman ambition. Five American hackers…suspicions about the government’s motives increase when their individual missions, breaking into the computers of different companies, start to feel connected….Wendig wields the tools of suspense and tension with skill. His large cast of characters is entertaining, the moments of horror are sharp and chilling, and the story races to a breathless conclusion. This is a promising opening to a new series for SF thriller fans.”
Publishers Weekly

Zeroes (9780062351555) by Chuck Wendig. $25.99 hardcover. 8/18/15 on sale.

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