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Digital Fortress

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the castle-of-bits dept.

Sci-Fi 217

carl67lp writes "With all the hype surrounding Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, I decided to travel to the bookstore to purchase the novel. However, while looking at the "New in Paperback" section, I happened across Brown's Digital Fortress and read the back cover quickly. It was exactly what I was looking for: a thriller with science (mathematics and cryptography), technology (a 3-million processor supercomputer), and intrigue. I devoured the nearly-400-page book in less than two days. But I left feeling a bit disappointed when looking back on the overall picture." Read on for Anderson's reasoning.

The premise

The first page ("Prologue") is enough to draw you right in. A Japanese man in Seville, Spain, is dying, and in his last act he attempts to communicate with fellow tourists. We immediately wonder, What is he trying to say? How does this relate to the premise of the book?

Flipping the page literally flips across the Atlantic Ocean, to the National Security Agency (NSA) and to beautiful, intelligent Susan Fletcher, head cryptographer at the NSA. She is involved with a university language professor named David Becker--a man who will figure deeply into the story.

A mysterious phone call sends David to Spain and a phone call from Susan's boss, Commander Strathmore, brings her to NSA headquarters. It's there that she learns of a potentially fatal threat to the NSA's codebreaking supercomputer, TRANSLTR--an unbreakable encryption. Strathmore briefs her that a disgruntled former employee, Ensei Tankado, has threatened to release this encryption scheme to the highest bidder. If Tankado does so, the NSA will be crippled--a fact proven by the revelation that TRANSLTR normally spends minutes decoding a message, but has spent more than half a day trying to break Tankado's algorithm.

Tankado isn't stupid--Strathmore says he has an accomplice who will release the code in the event that something happens to Tankado. Unfortunately, Tankado is the Japanese man who has died in Seville...and thus the NSA is running out of time to locate Tankado's pass key to break the encryption before his accomplice can release it to the world.

Meanwhile, Becker is still in Spain, under orders--from Strathmore, it turns out--to do just that. He realizes that Tankado's ring is the "key" to the mystery, and thus he begins a frantic search that leads him from a French-Canadian writer in the clinic, to a fat German tourist and his red-haired "escort," to a punk rock bar on the outskirts of town. Did I mention he's being followed by a deaf assassin the whole time?

What I liked

As I mentioned, Digital Fortress has all the elements that I was looking for. It had just the right amount of main characters, and everyone had a proper place in the book and in the story. I'm appreciative of the tidbits of technical information here and there--mentions of PGP, NSA history, and other such morsels were well placed.

There was also a smattering of sexual energy (although no real "sex scenes") and humor here and there. Who said computer geeks can't have a good time?!

I'm also a fan of subplots in books, that magically mesh together near the climax. Dan Brown deserves praise in this regard: minor characters who initially make you question their presence are brought nicely into the fold and given purpose.

In any book like this, little puzzles and questions come up as a matter of course. The reader is challenged to solve them just as the characters are. In this book, there are many such puzzles: What does the inscription on the ring mean? Who is Tankado working with, and how? What is the pass-code for the encryption scheme? Why is David Becker being hunted down? I delighted in trying to come up with answers to these questions as I read the book, and was pleasantly surprised to see I was wrong in many respects.

What I didn't like

In any mystery or thriller, the idea is to keep the reader guessing as long as possible, through plot twists, diverging plot lines that reconnect later, and the like. Brown does a fairly good job here, but this is where the book has its weakest points. For example, it is revealed early on that Tankado and the dead Japanese man in Spain are the same person. While this is perhaps unavoidable to push the plot along, I found it strange to have this happen so quickly. Later in the book, the author flips back and forth between who could be Tankado's accomplice, and who has committed a murder in Crypto. This flip-flopping is done poorly and leaves the reader thinking, "I already have my mind made up and you're not doing very well dangling red herrings." I had the bad guy pegged a couple of chapters before it was revealed, although I will admit that I was surprised at a particular turn of events afterwards.

Although this book was published in the late '90s, the technology aspects are still relevant--but this book gets some technical facts incorrect, or at least a bit off. However, they're fairly minor and don't detract from the book too much.

Some plot points are just too far fetched to be believable. For example, Susan's fiance, David Becker, tries to outrun a taxi--driven by the deaf assassin--while on a motorbike. The professional assassin fires several shots at Becker and misses every time, even though the bike is significantly slower than the taxi and the shots hit the bike body itself on several occasions.

Finally, some of the people in the NSA seem too stupid to be working there. In an effort to not give away spoilers, I can't be too much more specific than that, but suffice it to say that the "solution" is something that a high school science student wouldn't have much trouble figuring out.

Final thoughts

I tore into this book with high expectations. I finished the book with mixed feelings. As I look back on it, I can't help but feel that there was a lot of untapped potential and some glaring mistakes that could have been avoided. But I'm also pleased to have read what I consider a fairly good book, one that has served to heighten my interest in the genre, and made me even more ready to read The DaVinci Code.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair to compare this book to any of Dan Brown's later works. An author matures as he or she writes more books, and thus I'm certain that many of my quibbles would have been ironed out in future books. I'll have to find that out when I read DaVinci.

While it might seem that I had more bad to say about the book than good, I'd say that the reverse is actually true--the "good" goes all through the book, but there isn't really a way to quantify it.

I'd wholeheartedly recommend this novel to anyone who has an interest in technological thrillers, spy novels, or thrillers in general. It's a very accessible and enjoyable read, and I'm glad I bought it.

You can purchase Digital Fortress from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Don't forget... (-1, Flamebait)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332586) pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

Re:Don't forget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332683)

I agree with this post.

This post is for John Rambo!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332705)

Ct: Its over Johnny, its over
Jr: nothing is over nothing you just don't turn it off, it wasn't my war you asked me I didn't ask you and I did what I had to do to win but somebody wouldn't let us win and I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport protesting me spittin' callin' me baby killer and all kinds of vile crap who are they to protest me huh? Who are they? Unless theve been me and been there and know what the hell theyre yellin' about.
Ct: it's a bad time for everyone Rambo, its all in the past now
Jr: for you, for me civilian life is nothing in the field we had a code of honor you watch my back ill watch yours back here that's nothing
Ct: you're the last of an elite group don't end it like this
Jr: back there I can fly a gunship, I can drive a tank, I was in charge of million dollar equipment, back here I cant even hold a job parking cars!!! Huh icant jees oh god I had a firend he was in airforce I had all these guys who were my friends back here there was nuthin'man back than this fucking car this red 58 Chevy convertible, he was talikn about his car, and he said we were going to cruise til the tires fall off we were in this bar in Saigon and this kid comes up and this kid carring this shoe shine box shine pleases shine and I said no and he kept askin and joey he said yeah and I went to get couple of beers and the box is wired and he opened up the box and fuckin blew his body all over the place and hes laying there and hes fuckin screaming and theres pieces of him all over me and I can t pull him off you know , my friend its all over me , its got blood and everything and im trying to hold him together and im put him together and he keeps coming out and nobody will help nobody helped me saying I wanna go home I wanna go home, I wanna go home and hes just calling my name Johnny I wanna drive my chevy . but why I cant find your fuckin legs I cant find the legs I cant find his legs

Faulty Premise (0, Insightful)

enderanjin (753760) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332598)

Isn't the entire book based on something impossible?

Re:Faulty Premise (1)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332955)

No it's not.. If you read the book you'd understand that...

Re:Faulty Premise (1)

thparker (717240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333002)

I read it and yes, the entire book is based on a flawed premise.

Re:Faulty Premise (1)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333053)

The fact that it's "Impossible"? Kind of like putting men on the moon?! Kind of like the world being ROUND?! Ahhh, I understand, anything that your not capable of now, must, by definition, be impossible. --- AND THAT'S THE POINT OF THE "FLAWED PREMISE".

Besides, it all ends well...

You get an F for comprehension.

interesting (-1, Redundant)

TurnerK12 (748592) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332602)

It sounds like an interesting book.
--- []
These guys are putting together a free 3D action/adventure game.

1st poster (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332606)

nothing to say :P

-- loser

Amazing. (1)

i_am_syco (694486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332610)

This book was simply awesome. And it had a hell of a better ending than DaVinci Code. 9 out of 10.

Re:Amazing. (3, Informative)

enderanjin (753760) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332656)

Another good book is Angels and Demons. It has the same main character as The Da Vinci code, but it comes before, and seems to be a much better book.

Re:Amazing. (1)

i_am_syco (694486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332680)

I'm acquiring a copy of it tomorrow, can't wait to read it.

Re:Amazing. (1)

Mondrames (242558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332956)

I've enjoyed the 4 Dan Brown books I have read - However, I noticed something at the end of the 2nd book I read, which was reinforced in the 3rd and 4th books.

They're all the same plot structure. The stories are different, but they all follow the same outline. Almost as though he was/is trying to perfect this type of plot.

Still fun to read though.

Re:Amazing. (2, Funny)

Laplace (143876) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332779)

This coming from a user who identifies himself as "syco." Up is down. Black is white. Awesome is pure shit.

Echelon This Ashcroft: +1, Patriotic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332788)

Why is it that some people are so devoid of a sense of humor? Naturally, I'm referring to John Ashcroft's latest fairy tales. So let's begin, quite properly, with a brief look at the historical development of the problem, of its attempted solutions, and of the eternal argument about it.

Isn't it true that I was sincerely appalled when I first learned that his apparatchiks want to subvert time-tested societal norms? If that's not true, tell me why not. His premise (that we ought to worship execrable wackos as folk heroes) is his morality disguised as pretended neutrality. Ashcroft uses this disguised morality to support his belief systems, thereby making his argument self-refuting. He just keeps on saying, "I don't give a [expletive deleted] about you. I just want to leach integrity and honor from our souls." It seems to me that, as others have stated long before me, "we might be able to explain away many of Ashcroft's gloomy, intransigent lamentations as being merely the effect of bad drugs." Although Ashcroft has repeatedly denied charges of attempting to make classism socially acceptable, anarchism doesn't work. So why does Ashcroft cling to it? There aren't enough hours in the day to fully answer that question, but consider this: It is immature and stupid of Ashcroft to lead to the destruction of the human race. It would be mature and intelligent, however, to ratchet up our level of understanding, and that's why I say that he is careless with data, makes all sorts of causal interpretations of things without any real justification, has a way of combining disparate ideas that don't seem to hang together, seems to show a sort of pride in his own biases, gets into all sorts of imprudent speculation, and then makes no effort to test out his speculations -- and that's just the short list!

It has been said that Ashcroft has shown no compunction in committing character assassinations or engaging in full-scale vendettas. That makes sense to me. I believe it's true. But it indisputably implies that I find that I am embarrassed. Embarrassed that some people don't realize that Ashcroft does not tolerate any view that differs from his own. Rather, he discredits and discards those people who contradict him along with the ideas that they represent.

He says he's going to shatter and ultimately destroy our most precious possessions one day. Is he out of his officious mind? The answer is fairly obvious when you consider that it has long been obvious to attentive observers that his magic-bullet explanations are dangerous to my health. But did you know that Ashcroft's blind faith in factionalism leads him only to corruption? Ashcroft doesn't want you to know that, because most illaudable, slatternly rascals think, "credo, quia absurdum" when they hear him say that the kids on the playground are happy to surrender to the school bully. And that's why I'm writing this letter; this is my manifesto, if you will, on how to contribute to the intellectual and spiritual health of the body politic. There's no way I can do that alone, and there's no way I can do it without first stating that the next time he decides to force me to fall into the traps set for me by his understrappers, he should think to himself, cui bono? -- who benefits? Why don't more people complain when they see Ashcroft obstruct various things? It's because Ashcroft has mastered the art of tricking people with images and myths. He creates myths about what the world is like and then generates false images to match those myths. This proves to me, at least, that Ashcroft must sense his own irremediable inferiority. That's why he is so desperate to infiltrate the media with the express purpose of disseminating blockish information; it's the only way for him to distinguish himself from the herd. It would be a lot nicer, however, if Ashcroft also realized that after hearing about his reprehensible attempts to numb the public to the Comstockism and injustice in mainstream politics, I was saddened. I was saddened that he has lowered himself to this level. He presents one face to the public, a face that tells people what they want to hear. Then, in private, Ashcroft devises new schemes to generate an epidemic of corruption and social unrest.

His goals are popular among pea-brained autocrats, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to accept them. It has been brought to my attention that it would be hard to find anyone who doesn't agree that he has nothing but contempt for responsibility, duty, and honor. While this is undoubtedly true, he is calling for blind, impulsive action for the sake of action, for the sake of making himself feel good. Am I being too harsh for writing that? Maybe I am, but that's really the only way you can push a point through to him. Ashcroft pompously claims that it's inappropriate to teach children right from wrong. That sort of nonsense impresses many people, unfortunately.

You may not be aware of this, but his methods are much subtler now than ever before. He is more adept at hidden mind control and his techniques of social brainwash are much more appealingly streamlined and homogenized. I wonder what would happen if Ashcroft really did grant a free ride to the undeserving. There's a spooky thought. He complains a lot. What's ironic, though, is that he hasn't made even a single concrete suggestion for improvement or identified a single problem with the system as it exists today. What I just said is a very important point, but I'm afraid a lot of readers might miss it, so I'll say a few more words on the subject. This is not Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, where the state would be eager to bowdlerize all unfavorable descriptions of Ashcroft's positions. Not yet, at least. But Ashcroft twists every argument into some sort of "struggle" between two parties. Ashcroft unvaryingly constitutes the underdog party, which is what he claims gives him the right to censor by caricature and preempt discussion by stereotype.

His convictions disgust and infuriate me. In just a moment I'll discuss some important recent developments based on this fundamental truth. First, however, I want to add a bit to what I wrote previously. I do not propose a supernatural solution to the problems we're having with him. Instead, I propose a practical, realistic, down-to-earth approach that requires only that I deal with the relevant facts.

Ashcroft has no discernible talents. The only things he has undeniably mastered are biological functions. Well, I suppose he's good at convincing people that character development is not a matter of "strength through adversity" but rather, "entitlement through victimization", but if you were to try to tell Ashcroft's vicegerents that I leave it to more capable and intrepid folks to explore the full ramifications of his exegeses, they'd close their eyes and put their hands over their ears. They are, as the psychologists say, in denial. They don't want to hear that if Ashcroft is going to talk about higher standards, then he needs to live by those higher standards. Ashcroft's personal attacks are based on biased statistics and faulty logic, which, in turn, invalidate the conclusions he draws from them. Only true-blue quixotic couch potatoes or those who are completely clueless about priggism could claim otherwise. Ashcroft is not only immoral, but amoral.

One might insist that he deserves to be punished. While that's true, it does somewhat miss the point. You see, he periodically puts up a facade of reform. However, underneath the pretty surface, it's always business as usual. As everyone who has access to reliable information knows, Ashcroft believes that he can ignore rules, laws, and protocol without repercussion. That's just wrong. He further believes that he has mystical powers of divination and prophecy. Wrong again! If there's an untold story here, it's that if he is victorious in his quest to trivialize the entire issue, then his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity. Ashcroft's apothegms are just an outcropping of his hatred of us. And let me tell you, Ashcroft believes that beer-guzzling saboteurs should be feted at wine-and-cheese fund-raisers. The real damage that this belief causes actually has nothing to do with the belief itself, but with psychology, human nature, and the skillful psychological manipulation of that nature by Ashcroft and his pouty trucklers.

There are those who are informed and educated about the evils of metagrobolism, and there are those who are not. Ashcroft is one of the uninformed, naturally, and that's why many people who follow his pranks have come to the erroneous conclusion that anyone who dares to go placidly amid the noise and haste can expect to suffer hair loss and tooth decay as a result. The stark truth of the matter is that we have a dilemma of leviathan proportions on our hands: Should we eschew hopeless, unsympathetic opportunism, or is it sufficient to allay the concerns of the many people who have been harmed by Ashcroft? On the surface, it would seem to have something to do with the way that bitter, uppity credos have malicious consequences. But upon further investigation, one will find that I can easily see him performing the following prolix acts. First, Ashcroft will utilize questionable and illegal fund-raising techniques. Then, he will beat plowshares into swords. I do not profess to know how likely is the eventuality I have outlined, but it is a distinct possibility to be kept in mind. I don't wish to psychologize here, but if you can make any sense out Ashcroft's self-righteous philosophies, then you must have gotten higher marks in school than I did. Again, if you're interested in the finagling, double-dealing, chicanery, cheating, cajolery, cunning, rascality, and abject villainy by which Ashcroft may develop a Pavlovian reflex in us, to make us afraid to fight for what is right eventually, then you'll want to consider the following very carefully. You'll especially want to consider that I'm sure Ashcroft wouldn't want me to eavesdrop on his secret conversations. So why does he want to keep essential documents hidden from the public until they become politically moot? Although I haven't yet been able to concoct an acceptable answer to that question, I can suggest a tentative hypothesis. My hypothesis is that he and I disagree about our civic duties. I believe that we must do our utmost to focus on the major economic, social, and political forces that provide the setting for the expression of a disreputable agenda as expeditiously as possible. Ashcroft, on the other hand, believes that his obiter dicta enhance performance standards, productivity, and competitiveness. To inform you of the grounds upon which I base my animadversions, I offer the following. That fact is simply inescapable to any thinking man or woman. "Thinking" is the key word in the previous sentence. A final word: John Ashcroft's theories are sheer hypothesis -- speculation with not even a scintilla of circumstantial evidence to support them.

A beautiful female crytpographer? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332616)

Now that's good fiction.

Not a bad read... (5, Informative)

detritus` (32392) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332622)

I read this book about a year ago, and i have to admit it was definitely addicting in the beginning, but after about the halfway point the auther i think tries to outsmart himself with too many plot twists and other such tricks to mislead the reader. Overall a good read, and i'd recommend it, but the newer books such as The Davinci Code are much cleaner and a better overall read. On the other hand the author, while making a few glaring errors, does a fairly decent job of dumbing down all the tech for the average reader to understand while still getting the gist correct, which is a nice change :)

Re:Not a bad read... (2, Interesting)

yintercept (517362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332771)

I got the feeling in the book that the author had twisted his plot one too many times. I had the feeling that perhaps the author himself had realized the mistake and just hurried through the end.

It is strange, I read the book in January, and was so unimpressed that I can't remember anything other than a book beginning with promise and failing to impress.

Re:Not a bad read... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332818)

that's what hash does.

Crypto for parents... (3, Interesting)

sam1am (753369) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332822)

On the other hand the author, while making a few glaring errors, does a fairly decent job of dumbing down all the tech for the average reader to understand while still getting the gist correct, which is a nice change
I have to agree completely with this; it was reasonably accurate and "dumbed down" enough that even my mom got the fundamental ideas, and we were able to have a (much better than I would have anticipated) discussion on cryptography after she read it.

Uranium? (4, Insightful)

rwiedower (572254) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332846)

Did anyone else get the correct number long before the fictional protagonists did...and wonder why, if these people were so smart, they didn't know the difference between the two bombs? I mean, all the NSA people I know are uber-trivia nerds and would've nailed that number in ten seconds, tops. It made an otherwise interesting book hopelessly simplistic imnsho.

Dear author (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332624)

Dear author,

It was exactly what I was looking for

No it wasn't. You were looking for The DaVinci Code. Remember now?

Helpin' out,

Hope (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332628)

I hope microsoft sues linux out of existence.

Important character missing? (0, Offtopic)

lake2112 (748837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332630)

Wheres WOPR? Here's some suspense for you a computer has to play tic-tac-toe against itself and learn the game has no winner before it gets the 10-character passcode to launch all US ICBM's, effectively destroying the world. Throw in a young Ferris Bueller and Stephanie from Short Circuit and you've got yourself a novel.

offtopic (-1, Offtopic)

strumpf (754558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332637) :|

This is fascinating. Plz post more (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332730)

Mod Parent Back up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332759)

This is important information that is being posted

binary (2, Interesting)

OpMindFck (204177) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332651)

I read this book a while back and IIRC the genious computer programmer character has some sort of revelation at the end that inviolved binary. Like, "I see now, these are all powers of 2!"
Is it just me or shouldn't that be the first thing she noted about whatever system it was?

Like I said, it's been a while since I read the book and it didn't exactly stick with me.

Re:binary (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332739)

Hey, this is unix! I know this.

MOD SIG UP!!! (0, Offtopic)

Xiaotou (695728) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333000)

Er, unless you don't listen to Snoop...

XBox rules!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332652)

first post!!! you lame assholes... I can post first because my XBox is a american product and my pride in my great country and my great XBox accelerate everything...

If only they would make games for that bitch... IAve played Metroid Prime and it ruled... I hope M$ will buy those japanese bastards and port Metroid to my great american console system!!!

Join the fun!!! []

Do you know []

And that encryption scheme was: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332659)


One of those... (4, Interesting)

rigmort (584960) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332660)

It was one of those books that almost discredits the author's other works simply by placing huge doubt on the author's research skills.

The cover blurbs mislead the reader into thinking it's the next book by the best-selling author, when in reality it was written before the best-sellers and dug up to cash in on Brown's popularity.

Flipping the page... (4, Funny)

ENOENT (25325) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332670)

magically flips across the Atlantic Ocean, almost like a scene change in a movie, but it's amazing how well this movie technique translated into a novel.

Sounds just like the DaVinci code (2, Funny)

duckpoopy (585203) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332677)

might as well skip it now...

hated it. (5, Interesting)

shelleymonster (606787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332679)

Digital Fortress was a very fast read. Much like The Da Vinci Code, it's a well-paced, by-the-books thriller that fans of the genre will find entertaining. But, the technical mistakes are so glaringly bad, that I just spent most of the book being annoyed. I thought a book with cryptography as a plot point would be interesting and maybe even challenging, but there's nothing about cryptography anywhere. There's only a giant brute-force-and-ignorance hammer, no real problem solving. It really surprised me how off he was with some of the plot points and technical aspects since TDVC was so well researched. If you liked TDVC, skip DF

Re:hated it. (3, Insightful)

seafortn (543689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332812)

I have to say that the errors in DF are not much of a surprise, given the serious errors in TDVC - in which the author pretty much cribs some far-fetched theories from 20+ year old books, reports them as fact, and ... profits! The reason people here on /. are surprised about errors in digital fortress is that they don't have the background to see the errors in TDVC - and probably the same is true vice versa for religious scholars who didn't see any error in Digital Fortress...

Re:hated it. (1)

shelleymonster (606787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333009)

True - I wasn't terribly surprised with the glaring errors, but I was hoping for better. And, yes, I saw plenty of errors in TDVC, but the story and the plot points were much richer and interesting, even though they were wrong.

Re:hated it. (1)

kashani (2011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332915)

Read it when it was first released so I don't remember the exact details of why it pissed me off so much other than the plot was complete crap, the crypto 'science' anything but, and the lame ending. Hell call it Swordfish the Book. Okay maybe it wasn't that bad.

"Oh they're almost through the 4th firewall" (probably paraphrased) was one of my "favorite" moments.


Re:hated it. (1)

prisoner (133137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333017)

well, at least swordfish had two redeeming qualities....:)

The whole "VR" display thing near the end of the book was annoying. One would think that if the number of attackers kept increasing exponentially (sp) that sooner or later it would have been DOS'd out of existence and nobody could get to it...

Not to Mention ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332685)

Not to mention the author's piss-poor writing ability. He knows how to pick a good subject, but *man* does he write badly.

It's cliche'd shit like this: "The man hunkered down, sweat dripping off him. He looked everywhere, breathing hard. He was in deep trouble."

Naw, that's not bad enough. But you get the idea.

Re:Not to Mention ... (1)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333016)

It's cliche'd shit like this: "The man hunkered down, sweat dripping off him. He looked everywhere, breathing hard. He was in deep trouble."

Let's try some different cliches:
The geek hunkered down on the couch in his mother's basement. As long as the Doritas were near at hand, he could camp out on the cushions forever. Break a sweat? Breath hard? That crap was for jocks, except when he was watching the tentacle monster catch school girl. He hoped Mom wouldn't find his cache of tentacle-porn anime. Then he's be in deep trouble.

stride (4, Interesting)

spoonyfork (23307) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332690)

I read The Da Vinci Code like a lot of people then went back and read the rest of his works in reverse chronological order. I am fairly confident in saying that Mr. Brown has improved as an author markedly with each new publication. I would also argue that he has finally hit his stride with the 'Code because all previous books suck.

That said, I am eargerly awaiting his next work, it should be a pretty good read.

He wants to sell movie rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332790)

The books I've read so far are all written like they were designed to be movie scripts, or they are bad adaptations of existing movies. Though some of the plot twists are interesting, the dialogue and character development are just clumsy. The guys deals in soap opera grade caricatures of personalities.

Re:stride (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332798)

I dunno. I liked the thriller aspect and the puzzles aspect of The Da Vinci Code, but the prose itself was mundane, even dull at times. And the attempts at sexual tension in DVC were not all that impressive to me, at least not in the first third or so of the book when I was still asking myself "why am I still reading this?"

I am now working on Angels & Demons, and I have to say the prose is much more "literary" and easy to read; but the plot is less wonderful, at least so far. I think the initial handling of antimatter was pretty darn hamfisted.

Re:stride (1)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332840)

>>That said, I am eargerly awaiting his next
>>work, it should be a pretty good read.

Guess what - you've already read it!

All his books that i've read have the same type of characters, the same story arc, the same 'big twist' at the end.

It's like he's got a template that he fills in names, places, objects, and conflicts.

His prose is easy to digest, but after reading 3 of his books (The DaVinci Code, Digital Fortress, Angels & Demons) I don't think I'll read another one. I can see his twists coming a mile away, and now i see the formula I've lost interest. But then again, I'm the type of person that likes to see a movie without previews or reading the 12 page synopsis in Entertainment Weekly. I want the story to be fresh and interesting. I don't get the impression Dan Brown has that in him.

Re:stride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332923)

>> All his books that i've read have the same type of characters, the same story arc, the same 'big twist' at the end.

I completely agree, I was about to post the same thing.

The technical details differ, and this is where I worry. I don't know much about the history of Christianity or religious symbolism, and I loved the Da Vinci Code. I do know something about cryptography, computer science, and the No Such Agency -- and I was very disappointed by Digital Fortress. Any thoughts on tDVC from someone who knows about the technical background?

More of the same then (4, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332691)

As I look back on it, I can't help but feel that there was a lot of untapped potential and some glaring mistakes that could have been avoided.

This is a good summation of how I felt about DaVinci Code. Great premise, middling implementation.

Great premise (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333082)

Of course the premise wasn't actually his. The original source, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, was much more fun because it does a better of job of blurring the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction and therefore sucks you in. Of course the authors present it as fact but that's just part of the fun.

When will we see a novel... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332700)

...with some ugly stupid people. I'm tired of the same old same old.

Re:When will we see a novel... (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333065)

Stupid, ugly people make for good henchmen.. Aren't those in a lot of books already? ;)

My favorite parts... (1)

aardwulf (583280) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332715)

were how realistic it was, and how hard the codes were to break. dripping sarcasm. Still better than daVinci Code, not quite Angels and Demons. Dan Brown has a great talent for writing FICTION. Enjoyable, fast read, and boy does it exercise your suspension of disbelief!!

D'oh (1)

guido1 (108876) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332717)

it is revealed early on that Tankado and the dead Japanese man in Spain are the same person. While this is perhaps unavoidable to push the plot along, I found it strange to have this happen so quickly.

And now I know that they're the same, even before I meet Tankado. Thanks, friendly book reviewer! ;)

Re:D'oh (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332934)

And now I know that they're the same, even before I meet Tankado. Thanks, friendly book reviewer!

Are you kidding? (I know you were, I saw the emoticon.) As soon as he wrote the name "Tankado", I immediately thought "must be the dead guy in Spain." Once the reviewer confirmed that, I knew there was no way I'd ever waste my time reading this book.

Re:D'oh (1)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333005)

This is the second time a /. reviewer has put a spoiler in the review. Whats up with these guys?

Re:D'oh (1)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333022)

It wasn't a spoiler at all. Read the book, you will enjoy it, especially knowing your "".. :)

Seriously, here's the spoiler:

Tankado = NDakota :)


Re:D'oh (1)

Xiaotou (695728) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333049)

Actually, Tankado is Japanese for "He on sidewalk non live."

Really.. I read that on some stereo instructions once.

The author's confused (5, Interesting)

TimeZone (658837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332718)

Doesn't sound like the author really understands cryptography or cryptology. It's the people that do the important work of breaking a code, not the uber machine that just automates the process once the system's been broken.

Re:The author's confused (3, Funny)

thparker (717240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332978)

Doesn't sound like the author really understands cryptography or cryptology.

You must be mistaken. Brown even offers thanks to two ex-NSA cryptographers who helped him via anonymous remailers. So this book MUST be accurate.

Based on the results, I suspect Brown's anonymous benefactors were actually a couple of 9-year-olds who thought it would be funny to fuck with him.

da vinci code, angels & demons, plus minor spo (2, Funny)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332727)

I first read The Da Vinci Code and thought it was really good. I've never read anything in this genre though, so I can't compare. I then read Angels and Demons, which is an earlier event in the life of the same main character from The Da Vinci Code. It was also written before the Da Vinci Code. This was obvious too. It seems the author has been slowly refining his writting skills, which lead to the popularity of The Da Vinci Code. I'd suspect his earlier works (such as Digital Fortress) are not as well thought out.

However, I do recommend both of these books, just maybe in chronological order.

minor spoiler, no names or real details given...
M y disapointment is that the "catch" is the same in both books. Someone close and assumed to be trusted turns out to be the bad guy.

Re:da vinci code, angels & demons, plus minor (1)

robbkidd (154298) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332950)

minor spoiler, no names or real details given...
[Spoilage] ...
[Space] ...
[Preserved] ...
My disapointment is that the "catch" is the same in both books. Someone close and assumed to be trusted turns out to be the bad guy.

And that the plot in both (all three? I didn't bother reading _Digital Fortress_) is essentially our main character going on a "treasure hunt" following some fairly mindless clues.

Re:da vinci code, angels & demons, plus minor (1)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332959)

Yeah, the first time it was a nice twist. Now after reading his 3 other books I can spot the "surprise" bad guy from the first page he appears on. And that line in Angels and Demons, early on, about how you can slow yourself down in a fall with a big coat or something like that... I mean, foreshadowing is a good technique is used carefully but ...

Brown's lack of plot push (4, Interesting)

beacher (82033) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332731)

In the DaVinci code, Brown resolves his puzzles/riddles within 2 pages. It drove me nuts to have all of my boggles nicely wrapped up in a nice tidy bow within 30 seconds. Sometimes I can't stand authors who pander to those without an attention span or to those who only pick up the book and read only two pages at a time.

Boooo (3, Informative)

NilObject (522433) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332733)

I read the DaVinci code and enjoyed it for it's creativity and it's suspense. I read the first few pages of Angels & Deamons and threw it away. Why? Because they're exactly the same. They start out exactly the same way. Ergh.

So, I saw Digital Fortress and figured I'd give Dan Brown another chance. I've always loved techno-thrillers and I thought this might not dissappoint. BBZZZZZT!

What a lame piece of crap! Anyone at least marginally knowledgeable about computers and cryptology and security will want to slap Dan for the inconsistencies and falsities littered throughout the book.

And the code at the back is really lame. Booo hiss!

Stay away from it if you like good literature.

Go get "Hackers" or "At Large" or any other of the good books if you want to actually like the book.

I enjoyed it... (1)

npistentis (694431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332755)

I read this book right before I jumped into DaVinci code, and really enjoyed both. Brown definitely has a place in his heart for crypto old and new, which was fascinating (even if he did fudge some other details...). Yes, the ending became painfully obvious as the final chapter unfolds, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. After reading both, go to [] and try the scavenger hunt- its a clever distraction for a little while.

Corporate Fortress (1)

wehe (135130) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332769)

My favorite sience fiction books starts in a corporate fortress. Marge Piercy`s [] He, She and It is a brilliant story which covers ethical, philosophical, sexual and technical aspects of relations between cyborgs and humans.

Avoid this book (4, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332777)

I read it last month. I keep most of the books I read when I'm done. I threw this one out. It wasn't a bad read, but I agree with the reviewer that in the end it just wasn't satisfying.

One concept the book deals with that I thought was good was the belief by many intelligence pros that they need to "protect" the citizens from things that cannot be spoken. Hogwash. I'm sure the NSA does valuable work but when they start to trample the Constitution it's time to say ENOUGH. The fouders of the U.S. thought the people should always distrust the government and retain the means to change it if and when it became opressive or tyrannical. If the government accrues too much power to control information and the ability to track what every single person does and says and buys every moment of every waking day then it becomes impossible for the people to exercise that power. It is truly Big Brother-esque.

The book did a good job of exploring both sides of that debate. The guy who wrote the Digital Fortress algorithm was someone who didn't believe that governments should have the right to spy on its own citizens without at least telling them that it was doing so. Central to the plot was an extortion scheme in which the perpetrator, Tankada, wanted only one thing: For the gogernment to come out and publicly admit that it could, in fact, decrypt and read everything that was being sent via encrypted email.

The book still sucked.

Is that probable...? (1)

Parhelion Poser (715324) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332781)

Do you think the NSA would actually put the keys to unlocking encryption in the hands of indivduals? That's pretty stupid, but then, it's part of the government. It's pretty farfetched, but the implication is pretty scary actually...

Da Vinci Code (5, Informative)

gwernol (167574) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332792)

I was dissapointed by The Da Vinci Code which I read last year. Brown is pretty much a hack writer and seems to be more interested in a whiz-bang plot than developing anything deeper or more interesting. His characters are flat and don't really develop - the hero of Da Vinci Code is Indiana Jones without the bravery. The research behind the book seems very much like a bunch of vaguely-related conspiracy theories that the author read about and decided to write a pot-boiler around.

For a much more interesting book that uses similar material to go a lot further, try Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum [] . Eco uses the background of holy grail consipracists to weave a tale rich in detailed historical research, amusing characters and that is layered with meaning. You get the what-is-going-to-happen plot and structural and metaphorical complexity. I suspect that Brown may have read Foucault's Pendulum before he wrote Da Vinci Code, because some of the similarities are noticeable.

Summary: Da Vinci Code is a fun enough airport novel. I enjoyed reading it but in the end didn't feel I'd gained anything for having read it.

Re:Da Vinci Code (1)

tsmccaff (683906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332914)

I whole-heartedly agree with the parent. I invariably recommend Eco to anyone that has read The DaVinci Code or is contemplating reading it. It has much the same elements as the DaVinci code, just implemented in a more interesting and coherent way, with more depth, eloquence, and intelligence. For a lot of people, Eco wouldn't be the beach-side/airport reading they are looking for, but it is much more rewarding and worth the effort for those intimidated by thick tomes.

Re:Da Vinci Code (1)

shelleymonster (606787) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333103)

I would also recommend Katherine Neville's The Eight [] . It's a different subject matter (a mystical chess set once owned byb Charlemagne), but it combines history and fact and legend in a way that builds a really intriguing story.

Cryptonomicon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332810)

By Neal Stephenson...

Someone had to mention it - a fantastic book, crypto (with appendix) central to the plot, supercomputers (well, a 1944 model) and a great meshing of stories from two different timelines. Oh, it also has submarines, laptops, EMP weapons and well, it has everything a geek would want in it actually!

I thought the Da Vinci Code was shite - too far fetched. I'm all for great reads, but I got to the point in it where I could see the author's mind gradually spin out into la la land - either where he'd been working on it too long, or just wanted to get shot of it.

Anyways, the follow up sounds like it's my kind of thing, so I'll give it a shot.

Compared to Cryptonomicon? (1)

DonCarlos (222830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332816)

Anyone can compare this book to Cryptonomicon (assuming s/he read both ;)? I mostly enjoyed Stephenson stuff (and can warmly recommend if you haven't read that yet) and look for something of that kind. However, as someone else spotted, being a geek it's quite hard to stand book or movie if its author exposes his technical ignorancy. Anyone can elaborate how this one could fit my tastes or maybe recommend some other author readings fitting?

Re:Compared to Cryptonomicon? (1)

GGardner (97375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333048)

Start with Cryptonomicon, polish it up with "hipper" characters, speed it up, dumb it down, speed it up again, remove Stephenson's on-an-on tendencies, and you've got Dan Brown's books.

The plot thickens (5, Funny)

dexter riley (556126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332827)

He realizes that Tankado's ring is the "key" to the mystery,

NSA Chief: Aha! The ring is mine! Now our supercomputer with the clever acronym can decode this vitally important document! (hands document to flunky) What does it say?

NSA Underling: (Turns ring and presses buttons on blinkenlights panel.) It says..."Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

NSA Chief: Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son-of-a-bitch! Here, try it again! (hands new document to flunky.)

NSA Underling: (repeats procedure) It says..."All your base-"

NSA Chief: (pulls gun from holster and shoots his underling.)

NSA Underling: AIEEEEEE! (Underling expires.)

NSA Chief: (Shakes fist to heavens.) Curse you, fat German tourist and his red-haired "escort"!!! Cuuurrrse yoooouuu!!!!

Re:The plot thickens (-1, Troll)

sahala (105682) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333028)

This is so fucking gay.



Re:The plot thickens (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333146)

You've got a little star next to your name.

You paid to say that?

Digital Fortress (made for movies?) (1)

Marble68 (746305) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332832)

I found the book entertaining, and somewhat interesting. However, I also thought it a tad predictable, and it read like a movie script that hadn't been picked up and converted; or the other way around. Although, I like his style and The Davinci Code was a much better book. It nice to see an author do his research, though. Nothing drives me nuts worse than cheesy populous computer effects (Hackers anyone?), and the silly way effects people have spaceships constantly firing their engines as they move into docking position or fly towards a planet. Some do it correctly though (2001 anyone?). For a quick weekend or long flight read, I'd give Digital Fortress 6.5 stars out of 10.

Brown's cryptographic sophistication ... (2, Funny)

Craig (839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332837)

... is, judging from your description, about at the same level as his knowledge of religious history. How nice.

Really, given Brown's infatuation with silliness in DaVinci and the way he misses the boat in this one (unbreakable encryption? Just use a 4096-bit key; it'll take Moore's Law at least a couple years to catch up...), I have to wonder if the reason he doesn't do steamy sex scenes is because the technology is too advanced for him...


My review... (4, Funny)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332854)

I read the book on an airplane a few weeks ago. (Orlando to Kansas City!)

I was able to suspend my disbelief at an "unbreakable code" not bothering any of the cryptologists. And I was able to swallow, for the sake of the plot, some external person able to write a file of encrypted text that would (somehow) infect the code-breaking machine with a virus.

I was was even able to overlook the author's mistaken description of what "public key" asymmetric cryptography was. (He obviously missed the whole point of it when he failed to mention that it's useful because you don't have to have a secret channel to transmit your key to the other party!)

However, when they talked of using "Streaming Quicktime" to send video messages across the world, that's when I could no longer suspend my disbelief. Nobody in the world would use "Streaming Quicktime" for a remote video feed.

If you want crypto... (1)

rrosenheim (741535) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332869)

Try reading Neal Stephensons'Cryptonomicon.

A beautiful, blonde (female) computer expert? (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332880)

What's next? A compassionate WWE wrestler?

No offense to beautiful blondes who are actually computer experts, it's just that I've never actually seen one. (Unlike hot cops which seem to be around every corner, but I can't talk to them since I'm afraid of them)

This book was so bad... (1)

thparker (717240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332882)

This book was so terrible I wanted my time back after it was all over. It's just horrible.

The characters are painfully two-dimensional and Brown's descriptions are usually limited to cliched beautiful but intelligent women and intelligent but rugged men.

The plot's worse. There are holes you could drive a truck through, and that's only when you don't see what's coming 150 pages before it happens. By the time you reach the end, where a computer virus is slowly removing layers of "firewalls" like they're Star Trek shields, you're ready to hurl.

This is honestly one of the worst books ever. Go pick up Cryptonomicon instead.

Code at end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8332887)

I quite liked the book, having read it yesterday on my tablet from Peanut Press. I'd rather have read about the consequences of shutting down the NSA than a simple answer - 3.

One thing I'm puzzled about though - at the end of Brown's books there is a string of seemingly random numbers. Do they mean anything?

1-V-116-44-11-89-44-46-L-51-130-19-118-L-32-118- 11 6-130-28-116-32-44-133-U-130

Really a sub-par work (1)

rnicey (315158) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332910)

Generally this book is badly researched, but there are one or two things that really stand out.

First the main character Susan is supposed to be a top brain at the NSA. The only problem is that she's thick as concrete. I'm not saying she's slow on the uptake, merely my cat could have figured out the general plot before her.

Inventing new types of computers and math seems okay, but keep it on planet Earth. This stuff is too far fetched for most anyone to absorb and stay in a state of suspended disbelief.

What about the freaky ultra-conservative undertone (2, Interesting)

lamp77 (147098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332940)

Throughtout the book she was constantly coming in from the point of view that the NSA was correct in trying to snoop into everyones data?

This was shown with SEVERAL diatribes about how if only the people knew the real dangers they wouldn't be upset about email taps and wire taps..

I found the book to be readable, but overly ambitious in scope, and the periodic totalitarian outbursts were a bit much for me.

entertaining (1)

oogoody (302342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332944)

It was entertaining. Not at the same level
as the code though.

BTW, even if you are a professional assasin it
is hard to shoot in a moving car at
a moving subject. Try it some time.

Re:entertaining (1)

wierdling (609715) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333160)

Where did you live again, and what car do you drive? I would really like to try that out :)

Dan Brown has definitely improved... (2, Insightful)

bziman (223162) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332945)

A couple of years ago, I picked up Digital Fortress when it first came out. It was an interesting story, though I thought the book itself could have used some improvement. There is actually a code on the very last page of the book, if you happened to notice. When I discovered it, I e-mailed Dan via his web site with the cracked code, along with some of the things I noted about the book, including a few spelling mistakes. Dan has e-mailed me several times (apparently I was one of the few people who caught the code at the time), and he even sent me snail mail thanking me for the proof-reading. If he is still graciously accepting reader feedback, then it is no wonder his books have gotten so good over the past few years. I haven't started on the Da Vinci Code, but I'm looking forward to it.


If you want to read techno thrillers.. (2, Insightful)

fliptout (9217) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332952)

I recommend the James Bond books. Sure, they are dated, but the provide an interesting glimpse into spycraft as it was 50 years ago.

Some notes of interest:
-the books have almost nothing to do with the movies
-the books are short, about 150 pages
-not much action in the books
-Bond is not bulletproof like his movie counterpart

I get the feeling as reading these books that Ian Fleming writes about what he knows, and the material seems well reasearched, whether it be about rocket engines or toxic flora.

Anywho, just thought I'd toss in my $2E-2 while we're talking about what we're reading ;)

My own impression of the book (some spoilers) (4, Interesting)

JackAsh (80274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332953)

A few months back I read the DaVinci Code. I was impressed enough with the research the author did that my girlfriend went and got me Deception Point, and I got myself Digital Fortress. I read the both of them, and having now read 3 Dan Brown books I feel I can make a few generalizations:

(Spoiler warning!)

His plots and characters are paper thin. These books are the literary equivalent of your standard hollywood blockbuster movie (and by this I mean Independence Day, not LOTR).
The main villain is always the guy closest to the character, a boss, confidant, etc. Motivation can be sexual, power, take your pick.
The books are written so as to be ported directly to the big screen. You can almost see scene transitions between paragraphs. One of books chapters actually ended with "camera pan left, fade to black" (just kidding! :) )

The research for Digital Fortress was not as good as for DaVinci - we had the usual confusion between data and executable code (gee, you'd think government cryptogurus would know not to execute code contained within a suspect file), as well as exploding supercomputers, the ability to bypass every single security control by a clueless manager that should NOT be touching said supercomputer, etc. There's an actual 7 layer firewall somewhere that graphically displays the 7 walls, hacker attacks, and even displays each layer falling and the attackers getting closer and closer to the core of the system! Sure it's all explained away in some way or another, but it really makes no sense once you step back from it.

The plot for Deception Point was overly contrived and is designed as an excuse for shooting and chasing people around over a two hour movie, and does not stand up to the inspection of the reading pace of a book.

Now, don't get me wrong. I loved the books, they were fun, and even if the suspension of disbelief was a bit thin in some spots I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to almost anyone - it's just that Burger King is also tasty every once in a while, and seeing stuff blow up on screen while people chase each other is cool too.

-Jack Ash

I just finished it (1)

prisoner (133137) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332970)

and I didn't like it much. The plot wasn't so bad but the technical aspects were kinda laughable and annoyingly repititive

Interesting premise... (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332975)

It sounds like much of the book's tension hinges on the unbelievable damage that will be unleashed on the world if there exists a cipher that the NSA cannot crack on a whim. I think I'd have a hard time appreciating the book because I'd be rooting for the cipher to be released to the world. I simply don't agree that it's important that the US government be able to read everyone's mail, in fact I think it's important that people be able to keep secrets. Yeah, there are bad people who will do bad things, but there are a whole lot more good people who don't deserve to have their every conversation scrutinized.

In reality, I'd be very, very surprised to learn that the NSA can break all or, frankly, any of the major ciphers that exist now. What evidence there is seems to indicate that they aren't that far beyond public cryptographers and that they're even learning from public research at times. And if they truly have computers that are trillions of times faster than anything available to the rest of the world, well, I think we need to storm the gates, because there is more valuable work to which that power can be put.

Then again, maybe they just want me to think that.

Dan Brown is a master. (1)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8332993)

This book was really good, and any true Geek should enjoy it, as it's based on our favourite enemy (okay, second favouite, not including microsoft..), the NSA.

Although I really enjoyed this book, I must say it was not up to par with the Da Vinci code, and there is a good reason, this was Dan Brown's FIRST book. For his first novel, it was excellent..

And remember folks:


Another good book (1)

Kisama (448505) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333004)

Side note, good book. Try Ice Station by Matt Rielly. I chewed through in hours, and loved it, in spite of the inaccuracy, I was willing to forgive it for the sake of a fast paced book.

Re:Another good book (1)

mbadolato (105588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333046)

One that I just finished that I absolutely loved was [no, there isn't a referral id in this url] Altered Carbon [] by Richard Morgon

Was really enjoyable!

Why? I'll tell you why (1)

The Munger (695154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333010)

Why is David Becker being hunted down?

Maybe someone's jealous of Posh Spice?

Imagine the DaVinci Code, but just not as good. (1)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333089)

This book was to me very formulaic. It became apparent to me that Dan Brown, while he does produce some great stories, pretty much rehashes the same themes over and over. The extremely clever main character, the sinister secretive organization, the sexual undertones, conspiracy type theories, unexpected complex plot twists (the hes a good guy, oh no now hes a bad guy type, or is he? kind of thing). At times I almost feel he did a search and replace on the character's names and the "CIA" with all references to the church.

If you think of the DaVinci Code as a 4 cylinder car, think of Digital Fortress as the same car except two of the cylinders are not hitting. Its the same experience, just not as good. Cryptography replaced art history and religous symbols, and it just did not work as well. After reading the DaVinci Code, I thought Dan Brown was brilliant. After reading Digital Fortress, I thought he was just an average guy with a knack for research and bringing out the conspiracy theorist in all of us.

Idiots and time constraints (2, Insightful)

miketo (461816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333102)

Digital Fortress suffered from, as others noted, "idiot plots" in which the main characters have to think and act like idiots in order to propel the book along in order to create suspense. I find idiot plots highly annoying, because anyone with the purported intelligence of the main characters does the *stupidest* things or misses the *blatantly obvious* solutions to the problem. And I don't exactly consider myself genius material; we're talking on the order of "not interviewing primary witnesses to an event" level of stupidity.

Also, Brown now has three books that use time constraints to provide the major tension in the plot. The characters have only nnnn amount of time to figure things out or something truly bad will happen. (nnnn is usually an arbitrarily small number, like 24 hours.) Since the characters are acting like idiots, the time constraints only allow Brown to pull quickie and highly improbable solutions out of a hat -- "My god! You mean the Pope was really a female impersonator?" This isn't innovative, it's trite.

As cheapie reads from a used bookstore, Brown's books could be worse, but they're not worth paying full price at a bookstore. They're not high art or truly innovative, and I really don't understand why "DaVinci Code" has been on the bestseller list for so long.

(Slightly off topic: I think the Templar sigils in "Angels and Demons" are truly creative -- and they were created by an artist friend of Brown's. Best thing about the book.)

Dan Brown (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8333107)

Digital Fortress was Dan's first book, and was quite an amazing read for a first timer. He has made leaps and bounds in his writing style and ability. He has more and better editors now as well, having made it from new writer to multiple #1 best seller writer. Dan is a personal friend of mine and I've been amazed to watch him reach and expand his potential. I look forward to his next book.
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