Who Is Typhon? (Zer0es Is Here!)

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Doylestown Bookshop| WORD| Joseph-Beth Booksellers| Murder by the Book

The Poisoned Pen | Mysterious GalaxyPowells | Indiebound 

Amazon| B&N| iBooks| Google Play| Books-a-Million

* * *

It’s here.

I hope you check it out.

The Wall Street Journal listed it as one of three books on their summer reading for geeks — alongside epic bad-ass geek-queens Felicia Day and Jane McGonigal.

B&N SFF blog said, “Wendig weaves together genre tropes like a madman, mixing sci-fi tech, frenetic chases, and elements of horror into a brash, apocalyptic thriller with a wide stroke of black humor.”

io9 listed it as a must-read SFF book of August.

So did Amazon.

Kirkus said it’s “…an ambitious, bleeding-edge piece of speculative fiction that combines hacker lore, wet-wired horror, and contemporary paranoia in a propulsive adventure that’s bound to keep readers on their toes.”

Publishers Weekly says the book “piles on the thrills and chills in this fast-paced near-future novel about human frailty and inhuman ambition.”

RT Book Reviews says “an engaging, diverse cast of characters, a pace that almost never lets up and more than a little of Wendig’s signature humor, Zer0es contains absolutely no dull moments.”

Nerdist said: “If you’re in the mood to be scared silly by the possibilities we create when we mesh our lives with technology, definitely give this a read.”

Five Quick Things I Learned Writing Zer0es

Here’s five quickie things I learned writing this book. Ready? Steady. Roll.

1. I sold this book on pitch, which is both easier and harder than you think. It’s easier because — hey, I didn’t have to write the book before I sold it. I just said, “Hey, how about this book?” And very kindly Harper Voyager said, “Hey, how about this money?” And then we freeze-frame high-fived as the credits rolled. Except the credits roll right into the sequel, which is me writing the book I just pitched. See, when you sell a book that’s already done, you’re confident (ideally, at least) in the book you’ve put out there. Now you have literally no book and yet it’s a book you have sold. So, now? Now you have to write the damn thing and pray to the reliquary of Sweet Saint Fuck that you get it right and stick the landing. The pressure is jacked.

2. Books that require more robust research are slower to write than books that require… well, less of it. I mean, if you’re writing about vampires or Wookiees or the Knights of Fartfantasyland, you can get away with a lot of stuff. But this book is a near-future thriller. Hackers are a real thing. A lot of the technology (er, thankfully not all of it, I hope) in this book is real stuff. That means: research. And it means sometimes stopping the day’s writing just to do a deep dive into figuring out how to nuance the story forward in an accurate — or, at least authentic way. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is still a book full of MADE-UP SHIT. It’s not a documentary. The good news is: I did a year’s worth of reading and research before I even wrote the damn book. (And still probably got most stuff entirely wrong!)

3. Hackers are amazing. They’re our modern-day Wild West outlaws — on the fringes of known civilization, beyond the margins of charted territory. Living outside the law — sometimes malevolently, sometimes benevolently, sometimes straight up chaotic neutral. (And in D&D terms, that may best symbolize the hacker: chaotic neutral.) I mean, shit, we even talk about them wearing black hats, white hats, gray hats. Some hackers also turn into their own brand of “law” — just like outlaws sometimes became lawmen. Hackers get shit done, no matter what color hat they wear. And they’re frequently reminding us of the vulnerabilities of the systems that surround us.

4. Hackers are fucking scary. Or, more to the point, the ocean in which they swim is terrifying. Listen, in nature, monoculture is dangerous. Right? If you plant ALL ONE PLANT, then that single plant becomes vulnerable to… well, you name it. Disease. Pests. Weather. Whatever. Polyculture helps things survive. Problem is, all our systems are coming online and connecting with each other. Linking arms and laughing ha ha ha, singing tra la la, until next thing you know what we’ve created is a systemic, informational monoculture. Hack one system, you can hack ’em all. Every system then gets its little boltholes and trap-doors from one to the next. Computer security is a dire situation because, by and large, it’s controlled by governments and companies that don’t actually know what they’re doing (or who are trying to do the least effort to control bottom line money). Bonus: my post at Omnivoracious called “This Hackable Life.”

5. If you really want fucking scary, hey, artificial intelligence is it, folks. Last I checked, Stephen Hawking is no dummy, and he said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Elon Musk — you know, our real-world Tony Stark? — called it “our biggest existential threat.” (He also referred to the development of AI as “summoning the demon.”) Hell, Google’s Deep Mind is dreaming that we’re all made up of eyeballs and dogs. That can’t be good. I think it suggests we’re all just meat for the machine.

Why Grab A Copy?

Well, first, because I like to hope it’s a good book. I tried very hard to write a book that was equal parts scary, fun, savvy, thoughtful, and yet still retaining ESSENTIAL WENDIGNESS.

If that’s not a good enough reason, well —


If you’ve ever wondered exactly how this website operates, it is exclusively by me selling books. Not Patreon, not Kickstarter, not donations. And I really would like to keep it that way. The deal is, I front the costs and the time and everything to maintain this blog as best as I can, and ideally you then buy my books and the GRIM CYCLE OF BLOOD AND HORROR uhhh I mean the glorious cycle of blog content and fiction-flavored goodness continues. That’s the implicit deal that I occasionally (like right now!) make explicit.

That doesn’t mean it’s a requirement — I do this because I love it and because I hope it what I do here at the blog either entertains or enlightens. But the reality is, the website does cost money (hosting fees for this site are surprisingly high) and also costs the time that I take out of every week. Buying this book could be considered a subscription fee of sorts, if you care to look at it this way. Grabbing a copy of ZER0ES is a good way to support the blog.

Bonus: if I sell books, publishers tend to want me to write more books. BOOKS BEGET BOOKS BEGET BOOKS. It’s books all the way down, baby. But that works only if you and other folks check ’em out. The publisher has gone above and beyond to support this book, too, and it’s been a really great experience from snout-to-tail. And I hope this book rewards their efforts and and that their efforts reward the book.

(I always fear being so bold-facedly honest about hey plz buy mah books, y’know? And yet, at the same time, I understand that sometimes it’s worth being up front with stuff like this, yeah? The art of asking and all that jizzle-jazzle.)

So: ZER0ES. Hope you check it out and dig it and tell others. And you leave a review. And send me cake and pie and a pony and then I eat the cake and the pie and the pony and —

Well, I’ve gone off again, sorry.

Here you might ask, as sometimes folks do, where the best place to buy the book happens to be? In what format? Let me be clear that how you buy the book is entirely your call. Buy the version you want to buy  from the place you like to buy books. I’ll make an extra note here that buying from local bookstores — at least, good ones that you love and who love you in return for buying there — is a nicely ethical choice because those places run on slim profit margins but large margins of SHEER BOOK LOVE. And book love creates book community. Seriously, the people who stand behind bookstore counters or who shelve books in bookstores are basically transcendent humans — literary bodhisattvas who have remained behind to help guide the rest of us toward AWESOME READING OPPORTUNITIES. They are equal parts avatars and angels and fuck yeah, bookstores.

Also, some folks seem to note with some shame that they get my books from libraries — whoa, hey, no shame there. Libraries are fucking boss, son. Librarians are biblio-wizards. They are book-recommendation assassins. I love libraries. If you have a library you love, go get Zer0es from a library. (If they don’t have it — I’d love if you ask them to carry it.)

Hope you’ll spread the word.

You can read the first five chapters here.

You can add the book on Goodreads.

Where I’ll Be

Reminder that tonight I’m in Lexington at Joseph-Beth Booksellers with Richard Kadrey and David Wellington. We’ll hang out and chat and sign books and breakdance naked.

I’ll be doing a Reddit Books AMA tomorrow (though I’m also traveling so, woo!).

Thursday I’m at WORD in Brooklyn with Daniel Jose Older.

I’ll be at DragonCon (Fri, Sat) and Decatur Bookfest (Sun).

I’ll pop by Murder by the Book on 9/27 with Kadrey and Beth Cato.

And I should be at NYC ComicCon, too.


  • I’m a bit ashamed to admit this, but I’ve never donated a book to a library. Donated money, yes, but never an actual *book*. “Here. Take these books. Put them on your shelves because I like them, and I said so.” Could it be that easy? Will they do that, or will they call the Pescadero State Mental Hospital and have me committed? Any suggestions from the extended terribleminds family would be most appreciated.

    • It will not be that easy, actually — libraries don’t generally take donations for shelves, because the books on shelves are purchased. Meaning, that’s how authors still make money through libraries, because libraries use their budget to buy the books that get sent out. 🙂

    • The library I work at puts donations into our Friends book sales. Donations of books, money, or time are always appreciated though. The best way to help your library is to use it. Numbers are collected and the people who decide on a library’s budget use those numbers. Chuck, I’m afraid my library bought 15 copies, I unpacked them myself. I even bought an eBook copy for myself this morning. This is your fault Chuck, for writing such wonderful books. Damn you sir!

    • Hey, so I’m a professional book buyer for a public library (the job title is “collection manager”.) The most important thing to know is: EVERY LIBRARY IS DIFFERENT.

      I agree with everything Ron says, but will add a couple of pointers.

      First, call up and ASK. Ask if they take donations, ask if donations are considered for acquisition. (As Chuck says, some do; many don’t. Sorting donations is a lot of miserable, hard, slogging work. My library does because we are able to support a huge collection for the size of community we have, and it’s unusual to have a full-time professional collection manager at a library my size. Donations basically pay my salary; they’re good for about $30k a year. Generally, around 20k population is the cutoff – any community larger than that, and it’s just too cumbersome a job to be worth it, so the donations all go to the Friends book sale, and the money earned from that buys books. And runs programs, and lots of other awesome stuff.) If you, frex, live in a larger city, call some of the smaller communities around you. I live in rural southern Colorado, and I have SEVERAL regular donors who make the two-hour drive down from Colorado Springs every couple of months; one of them basically brings me the entire NYT Nonfiction Bestsellers’ List. These are people who have the wherewithal to go into B&N and drop $300 on a whim, so I’m happy to take what they’ve read once and would otherwise just leave on a shelf. Understand, you will never, ever get to dictate that a particular donation is kept. Once you’ve donated a thing, it’s the library’s property to do as they damn please; that’s in the collection policy of virtually all professionally-run institutions. So know what to expect first. (It’s totally okay to ask “do you want this particular donation for the shelves?” I get that question, and I’m entirely comfortable with saying, “Not really” when it’s appropriate.)

      Second, ask about targeted cash donations, and ask about matching donations. These are arrangements where you give the library a certain amount of cash, and they will spend it on the TYPES of materials you ask them to spend it on. You will usually not get to pick specific books, but if the collection manager or acquisitions librarian or whatever is worth their salt, they know more about what’s up in the industry than you do. Also, they can probably get a better price on an item than you can. Matching donations are just that – you donate a certain amount of cash, the library puts up an equal amount from their budget. I’ve done development projects for GLBT fiction, small green entrepeneurship, steampunk, women’s pioneer history, and other really neat targeted subjects.

      Third, ask “do you have patron-driven acquisitions or a request-to-purchase process?” If you actually specifically want a specific individual book on the shelf, the best way to make that happen is to ASK for them to purchase it for you to check out (because: see below, circ stats), and oh, by the way, you guys are awesome, thank you for doing what you do, here’s twenty bucks. Any decently-run library will have a workflow for patron-requested purchases, and in a lot of bigger systems now, there are patron-driven acquisitions systems, which means that requests are purchased AUTOMATICALLY. (In some, it’s with even one request; in others, it’s if a book is requested x number of times in y time period. ) In my library, we have an integrated ILL/purchase workflow – the question is not “will you buy this book?”; it’s “you don’t have this book, can you get it?” And we (I) decide whether to borrow it from another library or buy it outright. Again, every library is different.

      Fourth, reiterating what Ron said, USE THE LIBRARY, please use the library, for god’s sake, use the fucking library. The SINGLE overriding thing that decides what gets bought with your tax dollars is circulation statistics, and if it doesn’t circ, we don’t know that people want it. The reason sf/f collections in particular are so bad in so many public libraries is that many, many librarians feel like the only people who ever read in that section are the staff. So check stuff out, and then go back and report. “Hey, I loved this book, is there anything else by this author?” “Can you purchase the next book in this series?” “Do you have anything else like this?” “This author lives locally, have you looked into having them do an author talk?” That is the information we live for, guys.

  • OK, well, thank you. I’m gonna buy two or three copies anyway. One for me, of course, and if the library doesn’t want the others, I can always gift them this Christmas. I figure, whether I buy them, or the library, the copies still get purchased. Thanks again for the info.

  • First, happy new book birthday!

    Now, as a long-time information security guy (as in pushing 20 years in the field), I tend to avoid books about hacking and the like. So many writers get things wrong in ways that stress my disbelief suspenders past the breaking point that I just stay away to keep the /headdesking to a minimum.

    But I will give the sample chapters a try. Your stuff is raved about by people I trust, so I’m willing to take the plunge.

    Cover me, I’m going in…

    • Something like this. The sci-fi buff in me wants to enjoy a good near-future thriller, but the Infosec guy is readying the popcorn and his replica Tom Servo.

      Either way it’s a win! *buys book*

  • What a kick ass way to promote your book. Mr Wendig, you should write a BOOK on how to promote books without being a spammy douche-bot.

    Now I don’t know whether to buy it digital or actual. It’s such a first world problem. I find it easier to read on kindle but the cover is so PRETTY! gah!

  • A fantastic excuse to get me arse out there and visit the local bookstore here in our new home: New Orleans! Hmmm… I bet there’s more than one–so which one? Where to begin? Bourbon street, I guess…

    So, thought it was fun to see this today, right after reading your missive about Zer0es:

  • Heh. You’re just getting into the “hacker culture?” The “hat” stuff is old-hat (pun totally not intended). But yeah, your article about the “week” of news is more “these guys are poking and prodding source-code and finding vulnerabilities in these things and these things are serious because they could possibly do bad things in the future if people don’t take them seriously!?”

    (The Jeep and other vehicle ones is notable: WTF auto industry at the radio being able to talk to “mission critical” systems?)

    In any case, they are under the umbrella of Net Security and that’s a BIG BIG deal and we need more people that understand that. So hopefully your book shows that people need to take their security online seriously (and why the “Internet of Things” is a BAD idea IMO).

    Also if you’re wanting to feel smart (or dumb in a way, I guess) look up “SwiftOnSecurity” on Twitter. She talks about “Information Security” but more in line of consumer technology security (so most of the things you’d probably be using a day to day life) while making dumb jokes. You kinda have to filter the joke/useful information signal/noise but (s?)he’s worthwhile to follow if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

    I still haven’t read the Black books that you put on sale this and last month. *hides from Wendig attack* I know, I know. I bought them but I just haven’t yet. So I’m going to pass on Zeroes until it’s on sale as well. *REALLY hides from Wendig attack now*

  • It was such a completely brilliant experience to get to listen to you, Kadrey, and Wellington tonight. So much good stuff! I can’t wait to read your new book. My daughter got her autographed book and was screaming happy. (Literally melted my ears off–that voice of hers!) Honestly though, as always, you are an inspiration and I’m terribly grateful you share your knowledge, experience, and keep it real through it all. Mucho Fricking Gracias!!!

  • I like how the front cover blurb is from Christopher Golden. I picked up Tin Men by pure chance the other day. I’m loving it. Can’t wait to read yours next!

  • I have a confession…some ladies (married ones even) have a book-boyfriend… I have a writer-boyfriend, you. I smuggle my iPad into the garage to read your newsletters and cackle with delight at your offensive language. If it involves vomit, boogers or masturbation, I cackle even louder. I have no interest in this subject (current book), but I’m buying just because I like the way you asked!

    P.S. I do have several print copies of your writer-craft books too.

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