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REVIEW: "The Sundering", Walter Jon Williams

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKSNDRNG.RVW 20040629 The Sundering , Walter Jon Williams, 2004, 0-380-82021-8 %A Walter Jon Williams %C 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28, 2004
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      BKSNDRNG.RVW 20040629

      "The Sundering", Walter Jon Williams, 2004, 0-380-82021-8
      %A Walter Jon Williams
      %C 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
      %D 2004
      %G 0-380-82021-8
      %I HarperCollins/Basic Books/Torch
      %O 800-242-7737 fax: 212-207-7433 information@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380820218/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380820218/robsladesin03-20
      %P 436 p.
      %T "The Sundering"

      Once upon a time, a long, long time from now (and far away) there was
      a great space war.

      Given that it's a long time from now, it's rather bemusing that
      technology hasn't advanced very far, aside from discovering
      traversable wormholes and producing antimatter in commercial
      quantities. This isn't entirely the fault of human beings, since a
      mysterious and powerful race has come along and generally interfered
      with social and technological development, although they now seem to
      have stepped out for an extinction.

      But you can forgive a lot to a book which understands that space
      battles, even those confined to a mere solar system, take place over
      days, and that the ability to withstand crushing accelerations for
      long periods of time is what makes the difference.

      Faster than light communications would certainly help, but that may be
      too much to ask from the universe. Smarter computers would
      *definitely* help, and should have been possible.

      The use and operation of computers in this brave new world is not
      clearly spelled out, but they seem to run on scripts, rather than
      machine code. The mysterious and powerful race have ensured that all
      computers are registered and known, thus fulfilling Microsoft's dreams
      for Palladium. (Apparently no Linux hackers, or other amateur
      computer enthusiasts, have survived.) Serious cryptography seems to
      have been forgotten: there is one reference to the fact that nobody
      can use cryptography since everyone has powerful computers and can
      therefore break any ciphers. This indicates that everyone has
      forgotten that, when computer power increases, you can just increase
      the key length.

      The fact that computers are known and registered is used to prove the
      need for low-tech communications solutions when the bad guys move in
      and take over the seats of power. However, a few pages later, our
      merry band of counter-revolutionaries is happily using communications
      devices that seem to have a lot of computer-related functions (even
      real-time broadcasts seem to be "store and forward").

      Our underground heroine manages to become a fully-fledged intruder in
      the space of twenty-four hours. Along the way she does learn
      something that I wish every security professional knew: when you have
      functional security, you'd better have an assurance activity as well.

      (Of course, if anyone had put "defence in depth" in place, she'd have
      been sunk.)

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKSNDRNG.RVW 20040629

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them
      that Benjamin Franklin said it first.
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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