Saturday, August 31, 2013
SOURCE-FORGED ARMOR by Paul J. Bartusiak Three stars! UPGRADED TO FOUR STARS!!!
Where was the editor on this book? Spell check is only as good as the editor that double checks it! Homonyms are NOT synonyms. Site for sight, buy for by, etc diminish the quality of the writing. Sentences such as this one " Thus, for everything that Raskalnikov suspected or wondered about Dmitri, Dmitri was cognizant of it all as well, and therefore he know that not only was it highly important as to what he said next, but also how he said it." as a single paragraph gave me headaches. It was necessary to reread them to get the meaning and I found myself rewriting them in my head. Both of these situations interfered with the rhythm and pace of the reading thus damaging the enjoyment of the plot. Distracting also were the choices of at least two of the names of the main characters--Angstrom and Keplar. In the case of Angstrom I kept seeing the Swedish letter A with its circle diacritic above it. I suppose the name was a good choice since the scientist Angstrom was very interested in electromagnetic radiation and the MAV design, which is at the center of the story, sort of, involves it. Keplar, on the other hand, was distracting since I kept wanting to correct the spelling. This choice, too, is probably another tip of the hat to a famous mathematician and physicist, Kepler. In fairness, these might only distract a student and teacher of these fields, which I am. The correlation between four inch heels and women who seem to need to sexually dominate men and enjoy kinky sex was a bit gratuitous. Angstrom's ex-wife makes an early appearance for no other apparent reason than to establish the fact that he, though a tough, seasoned former CIA field operative, seems to have been passive in his sexual relationship with her, while she seems to have been something of a nymphomaniac. Rand, the woman on his team, though his subordinate, assumes an attitude of superiority in the workplace and a dominatrix in the bedroom. She flirts with all the men in the agency, sleeps with some and according to Angstrom has been the victim of some abuse or other situation that has produced a woman with a serious psychological illness. Candy Mav, the pornographic icon used on the crowd-sourced submission for a MAV design, becomes something of an obsession to Angstrom. Surprise of surprises when he finally meets her, she wears four inch stilettos. They move off into the sunset together and, if his ex-wife and Rand are any indication, there is kinky sex ahead. Thankfully, the author did not elaborate on the sex scenes and left the reader to use his/her imagination. All in all, Angstrom's submissive and, in some ways, total disassociation is treated as normal and the womens' behavior as pathological. Having pointed out the weaknesses of the story, it is now necessary to say that the main theme is engrossing and well written. The MAV is a Marine Amphibious Vehicle and the government has issued a request to the general public for a design for a new model--the request is called crowdsourcing. Anyone and any entity can submit a design. DARPA, a Pentagon branch, is in charge of sorting through the submissions and choosing one to implement. John Angstrom, a burnt out CIA operative, has been reassigned to DARPA and is put in charge of one vetting team, which includes Keplar and Rand. A CD enclosed in a girlie magazine and sporting a scantily clad woman, on all fours, heavily made up, catches Angstrom's eye. He decides to take the CD home and view it. The ensuing cat and mouse game between John and the submitter, as well as the plotting by the submitter--The Professor--are fascinating. The specifics of the design are truly interesting and the method of transmitting them over the internet is fascinating. A process called steganography, in which images break apart into pixels and reassemble into something else; the complete take over of a remote computer by intricate programs is riveting. The back and forth action between the scenes in DARPA and the team and the master planning of The Professor and his final extraction makes this an exciting read. With a little editing, both grammatically and plot-wise, and I would have given this a four, if not five, star rating. PS The author contacted me to let me know that the errors I found in my first edition have been corrected in subsequent editions. Additionally, a reader on Amazon commented on my review to say that his Kindle edition had none of the errors I've cited. As a result of these comments I have upgraded my rating to four stars, since as I've already indicated, the story and, for the most part, the characterizations are well worth the read.