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July 31, 2005


My sister bought me a copy of Transmission by Hari Kunzru, which I read and enjoyed on our recent cruise. It's about...mmmm...well, it's about an Indian programmer, and a Bollywood star, and an English entrepreneur, and a computer virus, and the partial intersection of those.

In ways it calls to mind Kurt Anderson's Turn of the Century, which I also enjoyed. Turn of the Century is much more ambitious, but Transmission is somewhat better written (and much shorter). Both feature some "hacking" as one of their several plots, and both have scenes that take place in the leafy confines of Redmond, Washington. Books like these always surprise me with how much Microsoft in general and Bill Gates in particular have infiltrated the mainstream literary consciousness.

The two books came out almost exactly five years apart and I think reflect the change in the public attitude in that time towards computer malware. Situations that Andersen can basically play for a laugh -- a little casual 0wNing here, some root access there -- in Kunzru's era can only lead to dark and evil things.

Posted by AdamBa at July 31, 2005 08:24 PM

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