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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Unholy Domain

Dan Ronco’s Unholy Domain comes along just when most people are becoming fully aware that the world’s new dependence on the internet leaves all of us vulnerable to a completely new kind of terrorist threat that was never envisioned by the net’s creators. All it takes to cripple economies, kill power grids, shut down sophisticated weapons systems and, ultimately, to kill people is one person with the will and the skills to hack into the right computers around the world. If that thought makes you nervous, you probably should stay away from Unholy Domain.

Unholy Domain is Ronco’s follow-up to his PeaceMaker in which he described how a computer super-virus was used to destroy economies around the world, causing the deaths of so many people in the process, that things might never be the same again. The U.S. government now fears out-of-control technological advances and, in self-defense, is severely limiting the release of new high-tech products. Complicating the situation are two groups, one completely in opposition to the introduction of new technology (the Church of Natural Humans), and a second one intent on selling new technology on the black market to the highest bidder (the Technos), that are literally at war with each other.

Caught between the government and the warring factions is one David Brown, son of the now deceased Ray Brown, the man blamed for creating the virus that devastated the world ten years earlier. David, hoping to prove that his father is innocent of the crime, begins his own investigation into what happened a decade earlier and quickly draws the attention of both the Technos and the leadership of the Church of Natural Humans. In order to safeguard their plans for the future, the Technos want to eliminate David as soon as possible. The religious fanatics, on the other hand, want to keep him alive long enough to follow him to the headquarters of the Technos in order to destroy that bunch once and, hopefully, for all.

When Unholy Domain shifts from set-up of the intriguingly dangerous mess that David creates for himself and anyone who tries to help him in his investigation, it becomes a rollercoaster ride of pitched battles between fanatic warrior armies, assassinations, murders, kidnappings, torture and wild lovemaking, not necessarily in that order. There is enough science in the book to satisfy science fiction fans and enough action to keep thriller fans more than happy.

This one, despite the terrifying glimpse of a future set only a few years from now that it offers, is fun.

Rated at: 4.0

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