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REVIEW: "Fatal Defect", Jefferson Scott

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKFTLDFC.RVW 20000423 Fatal Defect , Jefferson Scott, 1998, 1-57673-452-8, U$10.99 %A Jefferson Scott jgerke@multnomahpubl.com %C P. O. Box 1720,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2000
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      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
      %D 1998
      %G 1-57673-452-8
      %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
      character.

      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

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      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
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