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Author: Daniel J. Ronco
Genre: Thriller
Reviewed by Kevin R. Tipple

579The problem with technology is that when everything is turned over to computers, the computers can and do go haywire. Not just disrupting lives with minor inconveniences, but the computers can actually kill. That is the backdrop theme to this soon to be released adventure/disaster style read from author Daniel J. Ronco.

The computer system in this case is the Atlas Operating System, which is almost universally used in the very near future. Created by Ray Brown and his team from Vantage Point Software, the product has beaten all competitors. So much so, the company was a target of an anti-trust trial. A trial they ultimately lost and as a result the company was broken up into theoretically separate units. But despite the breakup, the company is still under her control of beautiful CEO Dianne Morgan, who has plans. Dianne is charming, sexually confident and aggressive, ruthless and relentless in her obsession to destroy the competition, the government, and anyone else who stupidly stands in her way.

The lovely Dianne has two motives. Not only does she want her company to succeed, but she also wants her shadowy group within and without her company, known as "The Domain", to succeed in their plans to take over the world. To do so, they will unleash a virus lurking deep within the operating system. The virus will cause a systematic shutdown of everything everywhere until her goals are met.

The virus's name is "Peacemaker" in reference to her vision of the future under her control. But Ray Brown has discovered a form of the virus and has seen in it violent action. He intends to stop it. Initially not realizing that his lover CEO Dianne Morgan is behind it all, he sets out to destroy "Peacemaker" and can only watch as the evolving and possibly self aware virus not only defeats his every attempt, but others are retaliated against for his actions. And while Dianne plots to take over the world, she has yet to understand that others within her group plot to oust her and use "Peacemaker" for their own nefarious purposes.

With at least three major storylines, this book shifts constantly in third person between them in this adventure/disaster style novel. As such, character development is rather limited and somewhat stereotypical of the genre. For example, Ray Brown is portrayed as a brilliant alcoholic constantly at war with his inner demon need for a stiff drink while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Then there is the achingly beautiful Dianne Morgan who reminds one of a figure from Greek tragedy. Not only will she sleep with any man necessary to get her way, while at the pinnacle of success, she throws it all away on a quest for yet more power. And of course, what would any adventure/disaster read be without the pov of various minor characters doomed by the actions of the "Peacemaker" virus. Some will live, some will die, and some of those deaths will be horrible as chaos ensues and society collapses.

Having said all that, for what it is in the genre, this is a pretty good book. Unlike many such novels, the focus isn't so much on the fate of the characters, but more a commentary on society, current and future, as a whole. With allusions to recent computer trials in the news, at least in the mind of this reviewer, this novel serves more as a dire warning of a future we may unwittingly be creating each day as we turn more and more control of our lives over to computer systems. While the read is enjoyable and fast, the issues this novel raises deserve serious consideration before the next power blackout or other disaster-man made or otherwise.


July 11, 2004 in Thriller | Permalink


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