The Zenith Angle

By Bruce Sterling

Like his friends William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, bestselling writer Bruce Sterling writes state of the art speculative fiction firmly rooted in today’s fact. Now in The Zenith Angle, he has created a well timed mystery approximately an information-age protection specialist stuck up in America’s escalating battle on terror.

Infowar. Cybercombat. electronic safety and techno-terror. It’s how countries and networks secretly conflict, now and into the longer term. And for Derek “Van” Vandeveer, pioneering desktop wizard, a brand new cyberwarrior occupation starts off at the fateful date of September eleven, 2001.

Happily married with a brand new child, flattening marvelous cash as a vice president of analysis and improvement for a booming net corporation, Van has been dwelling extralarge. Then the devastating assaults on the USA switch every little thing. And Van needs to make a decision if he’s keen to take advantage of the abilities that outfitted his excellent global on the way to shield it.

“It’s our networks as opposed to their demise cult,” says the govt. operative who recruits Van because the key member of an ultraelite federal computer-security group. In an issue of days, Van has traded his comfortable lifestyles contained in the dot-com bubble for the labyrinthine trenches of the Washington intelligence community—where rival businesses needs to grudgingly abandon a long time of mistrust and infighting to affix forces opposed to chilling new threats. Van’s unique genius is required to make the country’s safety platforms hacker-proof. And if he makes headway there, he’ll locate himself troubleshooting ultrasecret undercover agent satellites.

America’s strongest and the most important “eye within the sky,” the KH-13 satellite—capable of detecting terrorist hotbeds around the globe with pinpoint accuracy—is perilously just about turning into an orbiting billion-dollar boondoggle, until Van can debug the glitch that’s knocked it out of fee. Little does he suspect that the matter has not anything in any respect to do with software program . . . and that what’s quite fallacious with the KH-13 will strength Van to make the not going bounce from scientist to secret agent, staff up with a ruthlessly imaginative ex–Special Forces commando, and root out an unknown enemy . . . one with entry to an undreamed of weapon of untold damaging power.

From the Hardcover edition.

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In a cyber-secure utopia, all software program could glance similar to this. however the satellite’s coders, for all their frightening clerkly talents, have been in basic terms a part of the satellite tv for pc approach. the key aerospace paperwork that had equipped the KH-13 had labored on a strict need-to-know foundation. This intended that no person had ever understood the KH-13 as a complete. there have been nonetheless great black patches in Van’s wisdom, too. Any machine of that measurement and complexity used to be simply too enormous for one human mind to carry. yet Van had researched the matter with strange equipment.

I observed 2001 while i used to be 3 years outdated. ” They close their gleaming laptops to aid their eyes comply with evening imaginative and prescient. “Are you when you consider that haze up there? ” DeFanti requested. “It’s beautiful transparent this night, Tom. it truly is really super out right here. What a deal with. ” “That’s wildfire smog. years of drought in Colorado. Fires and fireplace signals in every single place. The sons of bitches lit up that public park like Coney Island. There are kingdom and county dark-sky ordinances, yet they’re feds, in order that they simply forget about us. ‘Sue us,’ that’s their angle.

Not just was once the Dot-Commie comfortable with all this excessive expertise, he was once downright nostalgic approximately it. The jet slid in the back of a pointy ridge of pines. It neglected the process on DeFanti’s brief mountain runway, roared up gushing smoke, then rotated and attempted back. rather a lot for transparent skies. used to be the child letting his most recent female friend pilot the object? Why had DeFanti ever agreed to have a runway put in the following within the first position? definitely it will take the Dot-Commie a very good lengthy whereas to discover him, up right here within the cabin.

I’m considering your Grendel factor may perhaps do with a few routers. Am I correct? ” “Sure it could possibly, yet, Tony, I can’t purchase any from you. ” “I might virtually pay you to take ’em. ” “We’re acquaintances. I’m a fed now. That’s now not moral. ” Tony was once nettled. “Do i glance 5 years previous? How lengthy have you ever been during this city? in fact I wouldn’t ‘sell’ them to you. You wouldn’t ‘buy’ them both. it can by no means appear as a monetary transaction in any respect. You’re NSC, and I’m NSF. Plus, we’ve obtained the NSA, for heaven’s sake!

You upload that dirt to the smog from the drought, and people wildfires on federal land . . . What has a guy bought to do? ” The Dot-Commie touched a fats black turn on the bottom of the telescope. The electronic tool perked up with an immediate click on and an obedient hum. “Wow, candy! So, Tom, what’s on our viewing schedule this night? ” DeFanti glanced on the monitor of his desktop. “An Iridium will flash at 9:17. There’s a wonky outdated Soviet booster I’ve been holding an eye fixed on—pretty quickly, it burns out gigantic time. And after middle of the night, they’re parking a MAGNUM/VORTEX in its graveyard orbit.

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