REVIEW: "Fatal Defect", Jefferson Scott
- BKFTLDFC.RVW 20000423
"Fatal Defect", Jefferson Scott, 1998, 1-57673-452-8, U$10.99
%A Jefferson Scott jgerke@...
%C P. O. Box 1720, Sisters, OR 97759
%I Questar Publishers/Multnomah
%O U$10.99 Fax: 541-549-0260 information@...
%P 339 p.
%T "Fatal Defect"
The jacket of Scott's second book (cf. BKTRMLGC.RVW) tells us that he
has a science degree. Since we surmise from his previous books it
can't be in computing, math, engineering, or physics, something seemed
to indicate it had to be biology. That now appears fairly certain.
As long as this current book sticks to biology it seems to work. The
terminology is correct, and barring a little jumping the gun on
cloning and recombinant DNA, the technology seems real or, at least,
possible. He even has a pretty good take on the genetic basis of
Of course, any biologist who thinks shark skin is smooth needs to
spend a little more time down in marine zoology, but we'll let that
go. I'm not so sure about his transposon toxin: it seems you'd have
to wait for it to invade cells, wait for it to start swapping genes,
wait for them to start producing proteins, and even then you wouldn't
be sure whether you'd come up with something really toxic, or just a
bad allergic reaction.
But Scott is still relying on computer technology for most of the
action in the book.
Some of the technology might possibly develop in a few years, but
isn't terribly likely. EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) weapons still
seem to be limited to a range of about a yard, with no great signs of
any increase in the near future. TEMPEST works at a longer range, but
nothing remotely like the distance to even low earth orbit. (Trying
it while you're beaming microwaves at someone is a pretty good way to
guarantee that you'll fail, given the radiation confusion.)
(By the way, sport parachutists regularly drop from 10,000 feet.)
I was all set to dump on "TCP/GP," until I realized what it was.
However, even if GlobeNet uses IPv6, you are just not going to get the
techies to change the name of a protocol.
I have, in the past (cf. BKVRTELM.RVW), noted that using weather
downlink data as an infiltration channel is fraught with peril. Not
for the defender, but for the attacker. The opportunity to break into
a system that way is just too slim, since you'd have no way of knowing
what is on the receiving end. On the other hand, kilobyte sized
chunks of data are just fine for email. (And pretty much anything
else: Ethernet sends a maximum of 1500 bytes per packet.) The entire
first message (and a bit more) could have been sent in one piece:
twenty five chunks is definitely overkill.
The mad scramble to chase down an address is a bit much. You can't
encrypt a network address (or even flip one bit) and expect it to get
to its destination. It'd be sort of like encrypting the address on a
letter: nobody, including the post office, would be able to figure out
who it's for. In any case, the strenuous effort would not be needed.
The evil hackers are out on a leaf node of the net. A single link
connects them to the rest of the world. Once that has been
determined, it is a simple matter to collect all the traffic, in *and*
out. The messages may be encrypted (and they'd never be broken in
that short a time), but the addressing would be clearly visible.
(Okay, maybe the bad guys could bounce traffic off a few hijacked
sites: with a single link to look at, those sites could be identified
and cleaned up in short order.)
Scott is starting to do a better job of integrating Christianity into
thrillers. Not good, just better. At least people are starting to
remember a few Bible verses, and not just send off the odd prayer when
all else fails. On the other hand, the fact that none of the
characters are facing any crises of obedience is making the plot even
less realistic than was the first book. The author has yet to subject
Christianity to any real opposition: aside from some snide comments
and a rather insufferable assumption of superiority, faith is still
disjoint from the action in the story.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKFTLDFC.RVW 20000423
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Murder is a crime. Describing murder is not. Sex is not a crime.
Describing sex is. - Gershon Legman (b. 1917) American writer
http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade