Feb 29 2016

CyberStorm by Matthew Mather

At its heart, CyberStorm is a book about how the human condition unravels under intense external pressure. Here, the external pressure is a record-breaking blizzard that strikes Manhattan as the Internet, and the many essential services it controls, fall victim to mysterious cyber attacks (which are actually very cleverly explained in the book’s denouement.) There are quite a few interesting ideas in this book, but I’m pretty sure I’d have liked it better as a speculative essay, mostly because as a human-interest novel, it was incredibly terrible. The characterization was almost uniformly awful, with my biggest problem being the narrator. Purportedly an average American, he’s so incredibly privileged and annoying that it’s hard to take him seriously. He does show the occasional flash of self-awareness, but I could hardly even muster the barest human sympathy at his plight, much less his flaws, which is a huge problem when dealing with an unreliable first person narrator.

And then the fucking cholera. Given how it’s a very easy thing to research, not only by the author but also by the protagonists (as the Internet was available to them when it became a problem!) I was hugely disappointed that it was used as a bogeyman not only on a micro but also a macro level. It makes me question the validity of the rest of the author’s technological suppositions. I powered through CyberStorm because of book club but ugh, can’t recommend this to anyone wanting intelligent disaster fiction.

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