“Gleeful, shrewd, speculative, cynical, closely observed . . . The Zenith Angle offers wisdom and solace, thrills and laughter.”—The Washington Post
“Compelling and important . . . A darkly comic fable of info-war, the black budget, über-geek idealism, and the politics of Homeland Insecurity.”—William Gibson, author of Pattern Recognition
Pioneering computer wizard Derek “Van” Vandeveer has been living extra-large as a VP for a booming Internet company. But the September 11 attacks on America change everything. Recruited as the key member of an elite federal computer-security team, Van enters the labyrinthine trenches of the Washington intelligence community. His special genius is needed to debug the software glitch in America’s most crucial KH-13 satellite, capable of detecting terrorist hotbeds worldwide. But the problem is much deeper. Now Van must make the unlikely leap from scientist to spy, team up with a ruthlessly resourceful ex-Special Forces commando, and root out an unknown enemy—one with access to a weapon of untold destructive power.
“Great fun . . . A cyberthriller of 21st-century technologies [that] peeps wittily behind the national security scenes of a modern superpower.”—New Scientist
“A comedic thriller for the homeland security era.”—Entertainment Weekly
The godfather of cyberpunk abandons SF in this satiric look at the high-tech security industry after 9/11. Dr. Derek Vandeveer gives up his high-paying job in private industry in order to try to help the government plug the nation's most serious computer security leaks. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that many of the worst problems are either too expensive to fix or impossible to deal with for political reasons. Vandeveer finds himself living in a slum in Washington, D.C., up to his ears in red tape and surrounded by a cast of would-be cyber warriors and failed dot-com entrepreneurs. Even worse, he's paying for the equipment he needs out of his own pocket. Worst of all, Vandeveer's wife Dottie, a world-class astronomer, is off on a mountaintop in Colorado. Meanwhile, something or someone is playing games with America's most sophisticated spy satellite and Vandeveer stakes his reputation on solving the mystery. Sterling (Zeitgeist) knows the world of cyber-security inside out, and he does a fine job of talking the talk without losing his readers. The Vandeveers have a convincingly believable geek marriage and their scenes together are particularly well done. Sterling has always been more comfortable with satire than action, however, and the shift near the end to techno-thriller mode isn't entirely successful. Still, this novel should please the author's fans, many of whom will be interested in the latest innovations in computer security.