As usual I’m late to the party. I first heard about Chuck Wendig when his blog post, an open letter rant about tiny houses went viral in 2016. I became an instant fan. If you’re not opposed to laughter and you have 3 minutes, it’s worth the time Tiny Houses
I got to meet Mr. Wendig at the Writer’s Digest conference in New York City in 2017. He was a panelist and I was nerd fan girl (perimenopausal fan girl, ya know the best kind, hot as in “flashes”). Anyway, I didn’t stalk him or anything, I have a life damn it. Sometimes I read his blog and sometimes I don’t have time (I’m a shitty stalker). Truth is I follow a lot of blogs and many of those writers have become personal friends or at least online acquaintances and I prioritize my reading time accordingly, sorry Chuck. (pssst…..Chuck doesn’t give a f*ck about what blogs I read).
A couple of months ago I was browsing in a local independent bookstore because that’s my happy place. I came across a signed copy of Zeroes by you guessed it, Chuck Wendig. If you’re like me author signed books create a nice buzz. Not as potent as that Judy Blume signature I got in person in 2017 for In the Unlikely Event but not bad for a random Tuesday. The book collected dust until it got selected for my airplane read on a recent trip.
I must confess that I am a lifelong card carrying member of the Luddite Society. My card is a 4′ by 4″ piece of slate with C A R D etched into it. In other words, I am not technologically savvy. My husband is a nerd and he keeps me current on gadgets and I feed him home cooked Italian meals, it’s how we work. I would still use a rotary phone and maps if it didn’t embarrass my family so much.
So imagine my surprise when I loved this book despite the fact that it was about hackers and AI gone terribly wrong. The main characters were intriguing and I cared about them – well, except for that asshole Shane (he was on the peripheral so it’s OK). Basically five hackers are brought together to work on a secret government project. They are an unlikely group with varying degrees of skill and social beliefs. By the end of the novel they all hold hands and sing Kumbaya with incense burning (not really).
My lack of knowledge may have helped me to buy into the plot….you don’t know what you don’t know. I don’t have the technical grit to argue the story line or ferret out glitches and that’s fine. Not sure if a more savvy reader would find faults that were blissfully absent in my perspective. The bottom line is I cared about the characters which I think is the most important part of writing fiction. If I don’t give a shit about the people in the book, I’m not sticking around.
The idea of artificial intelligence and every day surveillance pressed the correct buttons in my mind. I am concerned about the overall lack of discomfort regarding the loss of personal privacy. My kids have grown up with smart phones, GPS, social media and appliances that spy on us within our own home, they don’t have any concept of being off the grid. I give this book a massive thumbs up (you see that Big Brother, of course you did).
PS: This book came out in 2015 because, Luddite. Did I mention that I am always late to the party, yeah, I did.