The Zenith Angle
Ballantine Books, 306 pp.
Sterling takes on the world of computer security in his latest book. It’s an insightful, humorous look at the government and security concerns in a post-9/11 world. The story: Derek “Van” Vandeveer, one of the foremost programming experts at a major telecommunications firm quits his job to go work with a government agency that’s been established to help secure America’s computer interests. Most of the book is devoted to Sterling showing us just how bad our government’s computer security really is. He also takes some sly jabs at the private sector as well. By the climax, Van has transformed himself from a quiet computer geek into a macho cyber-warrior. And what a climax it is. Sterling has created a super-weapon that any Bond villain (or at least Dr. Evil) would gladly trade his bad accent and fluffy cat for. This might not be one of Sterling’s most innovative novels but it’s definitely one of his most thrilling.