B.A. – Global Studies, University of California- Santa Barbara
M.A. – International Affairs, University of California- San Diego
Thriller Sub-genre: Conspiracy/Technothriller
Future of the series: The next book in the series entitled Borderless has a tentative release date of 10/20/18.
The Simon Review
As a scientist, I tend to think in a relatively logical manner, but at the same time I realize that I have an illogical side as well; such as being afraid of flying but have no problem speeding in my car down a curvy road. Obviously flying is safer than driving especially when going over the speed limit, yet my inner persona doesn’t see it that way even though I am quite aware of the statistics. In a recent poll, 2% of the American population (that is 6.5 million) believes that the Earth is flat. One may wonder how anyone could possibly believe something that has been so overwhelmingly proven for centuries with evidence based facts including pictures taken from space. Most flat-earthers believe the Earth is flat for religious reasons, but others believe because of conspiracy theories such as the theory that the lunar landings were all fabricated. Psychologist believe that those who get caught up in conspiracy theories are looking for control and security and the theories give them a certain control over life’s uncertainties. It is one of the reasons that I have no problem speeding in my car versus flying on an airplane because I feel in control in a car but feel the lack of control in an airplane. It is our insecurities and fear that often drives our illogical thinking. It is also what makes us vulnerable to manipulation.
For those who have kept up with the news know by now that Facebook is under fire for giving access of personal data from its users to a political data firm known as Cambridge Analytica. Perhaps you don’t care that your personal data is being taken from you, as you really have nothing to hide. But what you might not know is that your data can be used to manipulate you and influence the way you think. Thanks to social media the number of people that are beginning to believe that the earth is flat is growing as well as other conspiracy theories. Now try to imagine if the internet is linked directly to your brain. No iPad, cell phone, or desktop needed, you can link right up to internet just by thinking about it. If you think this is crazy, think again, because it has already been done. Researchers at Wits University in South Africa are the first to create a brain-internet connection. So if we are having problems now with the internet, think what may be on the horizon if we are connected to the internet 24/7.
This leads me to Eliot Peper’s Analog series where everybody is hooked up to the internet through brain-interface technology. The company that has developed this technology and is sole proprietor is known as Commonwealth. The beginning of the series focuses around Dag Calhoun, a lobbyist for Commonwealth as well as for other powerful companies particularly from the oil industry. Calhoun is about to find out that Commonwealth is not so hack free as they proclaim and how easily it would be for a hacker to manipulate anybody.
Peper’s series is timely, as we are becoming vividly aware that the internet has some significant downfalls and with advancing technology just around the corner, these problems will only escalate. With fierce competition in the world of technology, there is a great incentive monetarily to get new technology released for consumer use, even without taking into account the possibility of significant negative consequences. I applaud authors like Eliot Peper for bringing up such important topics in a thought provoking and entertaining manner and his newest release, Bandwidth, certainly fulfills that purpose.
Even though I highly recommend reading Bandwidth for its provocative subject matter, it does have its downfalls, as Peper’s writing style includes an overabundance of similes and metaphors which made reading, particularly the first third of the book, difficult to get through. I have read previous works by Eliot Peper and found this not to be the case, so as to why Peper decided to change his writing style, I have no clue. All I can say is, “Stop it Eliot, stop in now”. It would have also been good if the concept of brain-internet interface was explained early in the novel, as it took me a while to figure out what was meant by the ‘feed’.
Even though I consider this series a techno-thriller, it is not very techy. The general theme revolves around technology but doesn’t really go into any details. Also global warming is an issue brought up in Bandwidth, but is not really the focus of the novel but more as a means to an end which is to focus on how technology can shape society, both politically and economically.
Bandwidth is a highly captivating novel and I highly recommend it. The second novel in the series, is entitled Borderless and should be released sometime late October.
What about the science? Peper’s other job is to advise entrepreneurs and investors in developing technology based businesses. This means he is very familiar with both the technology as well as the business side of the technical world.
The Technical Word in Review: Bandwidth-There are actually two technical definitions for the term bandwidth, one associated with electronic communication and the other with computer networks.
The definition of an electronic bandwidth is related to the frequency of an electronic signal. An electronic signal is in the form of a wave,~. The number of times the wave goes up and down over a period of time is known as frequency and is measured in hertz, which is the number of frequencies that occur within a second. A band is a continuous range of frequencies. For example, the human ear can hear frequencies from 20-20,000 hertz and a dog can hear from 67-45,000 hertz. The bandwidth is the width of the band which would be the difference between the highest frequency to the lowest frequency, so the bandwidth for human hearing is 19,980 hertz and for dogs it is 44,933 hertz. As you can see, dogs have considerably better range of hearing than humans.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
In computer networks, bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted through a connection within a particular timeframe. Try to imagine that each bit of data is a drop of water and is traveling down a hose (the connection). Not as much data would be transported over a given time period if the hose was narrow versus a wider hose. Usually connections between servers have high bandwidth whereas the connection from your internet provider has a lower bandwidth.
But the cartels weren’t about to let Rachel Leibovitz replace their monopoly on bandwidth.-Bandwidth
Books in the Series by Order:
Dag Calhoun sipped his third macchiato and considered that fickle bitch, power.
Dag Calhoun: A lobbyist for the firm Apex
Sean Bankcroft: Calhoun’s boss
Rachel Leibovitz: Head of Commonwealth
Emily Kim: The women of Dag’s dreams and nightmares
Lowell Harding: Powerful and rich oil executive
Diana: Use to work for the intelligence community, an information guru
California, Washington D.C., and Taiwan
A rising star at a preeminent political lobbying firm, Dag Calhoun represents the world’s most powerful technology and energy executives. But when a close brush with death reveals that the influence he wields makes him a target, impossible cracks appear in his perfect, richly appointed life.
Like everyone else, Dag relies on his digital feed for everything—a feed that is as personal as it is pervasive, and may not be as private as it seems. As he struggles to make sense of the dark forces closing in on him, he discovers that activists are hijacking the feed to manipulate markets and governments. Going public would destroy everything he’s worked so hard to build, but it’s not just Dag’s life on the line—a shadow war is coming, one that will secure humanity’s future or doom the planet to climate catastrophe. Ultimately, Dag must decide the price he’s willing to pay to change the world.
Now drug lords with private armies and billions offshore accounts were scrambling to reinvent themselves, seeking to monopolize the most potent and scrupulous of opiates, bandwidth.
Looking for a review of Bandwidth? Check out:
Amazon Rating-US: 4.12 out of 5 stars based on 201 ratings
Amazon Rating-UK: 2.88 out of 5 stars based on 25 ratings
GoodReads Rating: 3.74 out of 5 stars based on 576 ratings
Library Rating: not reviewed
Total Score 3.84
Exiled from Washington after a covert operation gone wrong, Diana is building a new life as a freelance spy, though her obsessive secrecy is driving away the few friends and allies she can count on. When she’s hired to investigate the world’s leading techno capitalist, she unknowingly accepts an assignment with a dark ulterior purpose. Navigating a labyrinth of cutouts and false fronts, Diana discovers a plot to nationalize the global feed.
As tech and politics speed toward a catastrophic reckoning, Diana must reconcile the sins of her past with her dreams of tomorrow. How she deploys the secrets in her arsenal will shape the future of a planet on the brink of disaster. Doing the right thing means risking everything to change the rules of the game. But how much is freedom really worth?