Zero Day: A Novel by Mark Russinovich
The techno thriller is fast becoming one of my preferred fiction genres. Zero Day is a terrific beach book (or whatever the winter February school vacation equivalent is, the time period in which I interfaced with the book). Having discovered this genre, I'd like to ask for you help in finding new books to read. Zero Day certainly does not qualify as fine literature, or even great suspense writing. Think more Daniel Suarez (Daemon, Freedom) than Robert Harris (Fear Index). Nowhere near as good as Neal Stephenson (Reamde, Cryptonomicon, etc.) or William Gibson (Zero History, Spook Country, Pattern Recognition among others), but perfectly enjoyable packets of reading pleasure.
One reason that I liked Zero Day is because its author, Mark Russinovich, is better at the tech stuff than the thriller bits. He is the author, after all, of books with titles such as Windows Internals, Part 1: Covering Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 and Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference. According to his Microsoft page, Russinovich is a "Technical Fellow in the Windows Azure group at Microsoft working on Microsoft’s datacenter operating system". From Wikipedia, we learn that Russinovich has a Ph.D. in computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon. You gotta love this guy.
Zero Day is about what you would expect. Fundamentalist terrorist set on bringing Western Civilization to a standstill via computer viruses. A brave and handsome computer security specialist, and his super gorgeous government spy computer genius colleague, are all that stand in the way of a total systems meltdown. Along the way we learn some things about cybersecurity, and we finish the book with a healthy paranoia about the security of our servers, power stations, and fly-by-wire aircraft.
So please recommend some more techno thrillers. They should contain the following ingredients:
Real Stuff About Technology: I want to learn something when I read these books. Futurism is great, just not pure fantasy. Either good details on the jobs of people who work in and around technology, or some sharp focus inside details about how various technologies actually work.
Something That Sys Admins and Developers Will Actually Read: The techno thriller that you recommend does not have to be written by a real technologist, but real technology folks should want to read what they write.
No Political Agendas: A long time ago I read Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October. I learned lots about how subs work, but have not really been able to read Clancy since then. His books just got too militaristic, too right wing. I want my techno thrillers to be equal opportunity events, books that my friends on the left and the right will enjoy equally.
A Good Story: Doesn't have to be a great story. I will buy every novel that Gibson or Stephenson publishes, but there must be more authors writing in this style. There seem to be lots of nonfiction books about hackers and cyber criminals, and maybe you will suggest a really good one. But for now, I'm look for fiction - for my next next techno thriller.
What are you reading?