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.
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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.
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 —
*warms up the SOLICITATION MACHINE*
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.