REVIEW: "Havoc", R. J. Pineiro

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Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Hannah

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May 30, 2006, 2:18:36 PM5/30/06
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BKHAVOC.RVW 20060108

"Havoc", R. J. Pineiro, 2005, 0-765-30833-9, U$27.95/C$37.95
%A R. J. Pineiro aut...@rjpineiro.com
%C 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
%D 2005
%G 0-765-30833-9
%I Tor Books/Tom Doherty Assoc.
%O U$27.95/C$37.95 p...@tor.com www.tor.com
%O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0765308339/robsladesinterne
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0765308339/robsladesinte-21
%O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0765308339/robsladesin03-20
%O Audience n- Tech 0 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 400 p.
%T "Havoc"

"And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war"
- "Julius Caesar," Act III, Scene 1

Okay, maybe it's a little unfair to compare Pineiro to the Bard, but
this novel simply comes nowhere near that more famous reference.

In some of his earlier novels, like "Conspiracy.com" (cf.
BKCNSPRC.RVW), Pineiro shows that he can, occasionally, get some of
the technology right. His later stuff, like "CyberTerror" (cf.
BKCBRTER.RVW) demonstrates either complete ignorance of computer and
network operations, or a total willingness to present any kind of
nonsense as long as it might look good when transferred to a movie
screen. (I'm rather surprised Hollywood hasn't discovered the author:
his books could be turned into movies that could take their place
alongside such bastions of fictional tech accuracy as "The Net" and
"Tekwar" [cf. VDTEKWAR.RVW].) So it looks like Pineiro is getting
worse as he goes along.

To the errors in "CyberTerror" we can only add that the author doesn't
know anything about routing protocols. Basically we have the same
ignorance of programming and other technical niceties that we had
before.

However, Pineiro has moved into a whole new field of nescience:
physics. Right off the bat, we are introduced to Kevhel, an alloy of
Kevlar and helium, making it incredibly strong but light. This would
be a terrific boon for mankind, were it not for some niggling issues.
Such as the fact that an alloy is basically a solution of two metals.
Kevlar isn't a metal: it is made of nylon, and derives its strength
from the weave used. Oh, and helium, unfortunately, isn't a metal
either: it's an inert gas.

Back in the networking field, sort of, we have a bunch of devices,
spread over an area probably a mile in extent, that are able to
distribute orders of battle in twenty nanoseconds. Leaving aside how
long it would take to create, format, actually transmit and receive
such orders, and acknowledge the same in a hostile environment, we
have another slight problem. Thanks to Grace Hopper, we are all well
aware that a nanosecond is the time that it takes light to move about
a foot. So I guess the battle takes place in a much smaller area than
we thought.

Speaking of nano, this novel is supposed to be about nanotechnology.
Unfortunately, the devices presented really aren't nanotech as much as
microtech: they are small, but still normal, machines. They all seem
to be powered by nuclear fusion, which is interesting given our
inability to get a serious fusion reaction going without first seeding
it with a fission reaction requiring, at a minimum, a few kilograms of
plutonium.

Still, Pineiro, for all his stilted dialogue and unrealistic
characters, does seem to be getting the hang of the thriller, and we
can all look forward to that special effects movie contract.

copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006 BKHAVOC.RVW 20060108


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"Dictionary of Information Security" Syngress (forthcoming) 1597491152
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