Breakpoint (Clarke)

by Richard A. Clarke

Say you wanted to read an exciting techno-thriller, filled with interesting characters, cool gadgets, realistic scenarios, and a writer who knows how to join them all together. Sound good? Excellent. In that case, don’t read this book.
I’m not sure how Richard A. Clarke got a rep as being a deep technical thinker. Maybe he is, but if so, this book certainly doesn’t show it. Breakpoint centers on a shadowy conspiracy to screw the civilized world by destroying much of its information infrastructure. The book starts well enough, with an attack on the terminating points for transoceanic cables that link US internet traffic to the rest of the world. However, the continual pseudo-technical blathering (“server-motor-driven”? err, maybe you meant “servo”?) about “Sytho Routers” and “Living Software” (a spanking-new self-replicating software package that will simultaneously give us a cross between Kurzweil’s Singularity and Skynet) quickly becomes intolerable.
The characters have little verve or dimensionality, the dialogue is bogus (particularly when 1337 h4xx0rs are speaking), and the whole thing left me shaking my head.
I haven’t finished it yet. I keep hoping that it will get better, while simultaneously knowing that it won’t. Don’t bother.


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