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Fools" Experiments


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From Publishers WeeklyThis SF/horror thriller gathers considerable momentum before concluding weakly. Computer researcher Doug Carey uses virtual reality to help people mentally control prosthetic limbs, but other, less benign programmers are producing destructive viruses and worms. The military-industrial complex recklessly encourages the development of a problem-solving program that soon becomes independently intelligent and escapes control. Crises escalate until the entity fries some scientists" brains, causes nationwide network outages and takes charge of the U.S. arsenal of nuclear missiles. Lerner (Fleet of Worlds) convincingly shows the development of the electronic consciousness and its groping interaction with humanity. Nonelectronic characters are streamlined, but usually bright and sympathetic even when they"re fatally wrong. Though warnings against invasive, malicious machine intelligences are nothing new, good science and entertaining writing make this a fast, fascinating read. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Read moreFrom BooklistLerner puts his expertise in computer science, not to mention his experience cowriting novels with Larry Niven, to good use in this exciting and unsettling near-future thriller. A computer scientist is working on developing software that evolves, learning from its own experiences—he is breeding software, as one observer puts it. It’s done with the noblest of intentions, but the process goes horribly wrong, and a supervirus, able to think and to defend itself, is unleashed into the Internet, where it begins carrying out a series of murders. Doug Carey, a top-level software developer, races to stop the virus before it can spread across the planet. It’s an ambitious idea for a novel, and Lerner carries it off in style, capturing our interest—and our acceptance of his premise—from the very beginning. This is a high-tech thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton’s Prey (2002), in which the villainous presence was a cloud of nano-robots, and just as well crafted. --David PittRead moreSee all Editorial Reviews

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