Friday, November 14, 2008

"Fools’ Experiments"

Edward M. Lerner is a writer of SF and technothrillers, most recently Fools’ Experiments.

Lerner gave Fools’ Experiments the Page 69 Test and reported the following:
Fools’ Experiments takes its title from a line of Charles Darwin. “I love fools’ experiments. I am always making them.” Darwin was a rather bright guy, which begs -- at least of an SF author -- the question: What sort of experiments might a latter-day Darwin try, and why might those experiments prove worrisome?

Fools’ Experiments is a near-future technothriller of artificial life (evolving, rather then programming, software), and artificial intelligence, and hubris. Why hubris? Because evolution will happen quickly within a computer. If we breed our software rather than design it, we may achieve a revolution in a short time -- or the survivors may be left to wonder when humanity lost control. Leading me to, as the most succinct summary:

We are not alone, and it’s our own damn fault.

Page 69 of the novel sees Doug Carey, a one-armed computer engineer who aspires to develop better prosthetic limbs, brought down by a computer virus. Software in the limb’s controller needs periodic maintenance; networking the limb’s processors to a PC has allowed a virus entry. The virus disables his prosthetic at a most inopportune time.

Doug has been in mourning since the accident that killed his fiancée and cost him his arm. The page 69 incident creates a first connection between Doug and the woman who will eventually bring him back into the world.

The incident also foreshadows the ever-growing levels of havoc to be wreaked by malware. How much havoc? Prepare to feel nostalgic about any mere virus, worm, or Trojan horse.
Learn more about the author and his work (including his collaborations with SF master Larry Niven) at the Edward M. Lerner, Perpetrator of Science Fiction and Technothrillers website and at his blog, SF and Nonsense.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue