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The Zenith Angle

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  485 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Pioneering computer wizard Derek "Van" Vandeveer has been living extra-large as a VP for a booming Internet company. But the September 11 attacks on America change everything. Recruited as the key member of an elite federal computer-security team, Van enters the labyrinthine trenches of the Washington intelligence community. His special genius is needed to debug the softwa ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published April 26th 2005 by Del Rey Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Clynt Keelan
Brusce Sterling is preoccupied in this book with the transformations Cybersociety went through as a result of the September 11 terror attacks and of the dotcom and telecoms busts. To be honest the characters and events weren't quite as interesting to me as was the ambient commentary on events in technological development from 2000 to around 2007.
The confrontation between the main character as a cybersecurity worker and a government-recruited ex-hacker is informative and well-imagined, and the fr
A post 9/11 cyberterrorism something something satellites something national security something something techno thriller.

Full of enormous privileged white guy egos and annoying privileged white guy angst, with a gentle sprinkling of unconscious sexism. I hit a critical mass of bored irritation halfway through, skipped to the end, and rolled my eyes so hard I think I sprained something.

Saved from 1 star by the occasionally crisp dialogue, and a thin gloss of geeky-charm-humor. A very thin glos
Peter Petermann
Now that escalated quickly.. About 40 minutes before I finished the book I formulated in my head "good writing, but it seems to lack a bigger story arc" I couldn't have been wrong more. In the last chapters the author manages to tie it all together, add a twist and make sense of it all. Well done.

So why am I only giving 4 out of 5 stars? Mostly because some of the minor details don't make sense, like that gag about using spam for the laser, or shooting someone with a hot glue gun. In some way i
Bruce Sterling has written some fantastic SF books, however, this is one to avoid. Characterisations are very weak, the plot line is farcical, and gets worse as the book develops - no wait, it does'nt develop, it unravels completely into farce.
It really feels like Bruce lost interest after writing the first chapter and handed it over to a 10 year old boy to finish.
Do yourself a favour, and read a different book.
Sorry Bruce, but a very poor effort.

Satire, people, satire. The main character shoots the villain with a titanium glue gun that looks like a Buck Rogers Death Ray. Anybody who doesn't find the humor in that isn't paying the right kind of attention to this book. Sterling is always having more fun than you realize.

As always, finely executed commercial fiction with the intellectual content of more serious stuff. I am hoping for a sequel about Van's adventures in Europe.
Levent Mollamustafaoglu
The Zenith Angle is a relatively new book by Bruce Sterling. I had first read Bruce Sterling as one of the two prominent writers of the cyberpunk movement (the other being William Gibson).

The book I read was Islands in the Net and I had liked it a lot. Unlike the pessimistic post-cybernetics world of William Gibson, Sterling's world was more lively and - I must say - more realistic. In this book he was dealing with the 21st century where data is the most valuable commodity and data piracy is som
So maaaaaybe this is operating at some high level of irony. I can sort of see it in hindsight: Van's overwrought behavior and speechifying and take-so-seriously business at what is barely a first world problem of "cyberwar" and so forth. And I can see angles where the book peels away the veneer of Government work to show the overcomplicated bureaucracy, all politically-driven and working-at-cross-purposes.

And I can see messages about ideal technical solutions and situations--the Ivory Tower--bei
I normally absolutely adore Sterling, his 'Zeitgeist' holds a place of honor on my bookshelf; I found it to be witty, poignant, and full of strangely likable characters. In essence, it's everything this book isn't. 'The Zenith Angle' is really the nadir of Bruce's work. An attempt to spin a tale about the clashing realities of cyber-security and real security in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but instead, all this book does is clash. The story is a wandering, meandering mess that seems half-fi ...more
Bruce Sterling is one of the few writers whose work I will buy, new, in hardcover when I see it on the shelves. I generally find his work fresh and interesting, and it is always intelligent and accessible. Sterling's name is usually mentioned in conjunction with William Gibson as the leading authors of the "cyber punk" genre. I prefer Sterling's style over Gibson's.

Sadly, I think this is one of Sterling's weakest books to date. The technology described was sound, as expected with a Sterling nove
Althea Ann
I keep wanting to really like Bruce Sterling, but then just - not. The Zenith Angle, is, reportedly, a techno-thriller about computer/Internet security. Sadly, unless you are the Special Adviser for Cyberspace Security to the Bush Administration (who wrote a glowing blurb for this book), Internet Security is just not that thrilling.
In this novel, the main character, Van, leaves his corporate job as a computer geek to go work for the government. He finds himself underpaid and broke, trying to co
Leonardo Etcheto
Great story, loved the characters, falls down at the end. Right up to the final confrontation with the evil genius, the book was spot on. Once Van went all cyber warrior and deadly it got pretty loopy. I found the relationship between Van and his wife Dottie pretty damn weird, but I don’t know many hardcore computer geeks, so it is probably fairly realistic. Especially because emotionally they are both “damaged”.
An interesting theme I had not thought much about before; is the ego hit many of th
Thomas Litchford
The Zenith Angle was disappointing. I ignored other reviews that said as much because I'm a fan of Bruce Sterling's work. Ah, well.

The ingredients of a good Sterling novel are here, but he over-seasoned the dish. Perhaps in an attempt at satire, he essentially turned his novel into a long rant on the state of security (specifically cyber-security) in the post-September 11th world. And it gets tiresome.

You follow his hero, Derek Vandeveer, on his odyssey from the world of the dot-com into the wor
I'm currently reading through Bruce Sterling's work, so obviously I like his stuff, sort of, no matter what. This book was fun reading until the cheesy - as another reviewer says - James Bond ending. But, giving Sterling the benefit of the doubt, I just chalked it up to him thinking one day: "man, I'd really like to write a sort James Bond meets The Hacker Crackdown mashup book." Of course, that was before the term "mashup," but hey, look over there, never mind that.

I'm a fan on non-fiction buer
Maria Longley
Bruce Sterling brings interesting ideas and thoughts to how the world is changing post-9/11 and the Internet, and the impossibility of a "war on terror". These bits were interesting. There was also a rather less-than-complimentary look at how things don't get done in Washington due to politics, red tape, and money which at times was quite funny. It was the end really... Geek turns into cyber warrior didn't really do it for me and the action/thiller bits weren't all that great, and the great deno ...more
Ray Charbonneau
Liked the world-building and social commentary a lot. The plot sort of petered out to a joke, but that was probably the point.
While The Zenith Angle isn't one of Sterling's best efforts it's still more readable than many books out there. There's something engaging about his characters and dialog that just draws you in, even when the story is lacking. The Zenith Angle describes Sterlings feelings about the US government, 9/11, the military-industrial complex and how programmers and scientists could save the world if they just had the political power and funding. If you want to read some Sterling, try Distraction
Daniël Crompton
Started very good, the end was a little gung-ho.
Two words: LASER SPAM.
The book is about a computer scientist that does a lot of angsty thinking about how his precious interwebs are all under attack from cyber terrorists - and only one "intruder" was mentioned after 200 pages. The story does pick up quite a bit towards the end, but the ending felt goofy - as if the author realized, "Oh dang...I need to make this story come together now."

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to feel unfulfilled after reading it. Or, to anyone that liked "The DaVinci Code
Not up to Bruce's best, but still a compulsive page-turner. Actually my favorite line is one that Bruce has one of the characters quote from Heinlein: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write a sonnet, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
raht awn, raht awn, raht AWN!
David Gross
Feels like it wants to be some sort of "men's action adventure" book, but most of the action involves boring bureaucratic infighting, the hero is a computer geek who navigates acronym agencies with aplomb, and the romance is the hapless introspection of a married guy with borderline Aspergers Syndrome. Then, suddenly, in the last chapter, there's a ridiculous James Bond movie climax with huge laser space rays, dueling spies with eye-rolling dialogue, and ginormous assplosions.
Adrian Sud
Bruce Sterling is a new author for me, but I'll definitely go in for his other works. The Zenith Angle was excellent; it was plot driven and action filled, technologically interesting, and had characters who were provided enough depth to feel real, but not so complex as to subvert the plot. It took turns between funny and scary (the book depicts a frankly realistic slide towards a dystopia in present day), and is thoroughly entertaining.
Enjoyable, but slight. Interesting insights into technology wrapped in a James Bond Lite shell. Cool gadgets but ultimately unsatisfying. Tried to find the humor touted on the jacket, but I just didn't see any.

Nicely written anyway - I'll be looking for another Bruce Sterling as I see that his readers regard this as one of his lesser works.
Dan Lemke
A very interesting techno-spy novel about the important battlefields of the 21st Century. Sterling delivers a healthy dose of sarcasm and critique over the manner in which bureaucracies operate, while at the same time charting a narrative that is entertaining on its own merits.
Aug 26, 2012 Penny rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: scifi
Great story, with interesting ideas and characters ... and so many ideas that arrive like automatic gunshots. He's especially prescient about the intersection of government and the Internet -- the defenders and despoilers on both sides. I liked it a lot.
A little slow in the beginning, but really fast and gripping wrap-up in the final chapters. A bit weird to be reading this as sci-fi when it's set a few years in the past, but that's more my fault for reading this now rather than when it first came out.
This book has a few fundamental problems. The motivations of the main character are sometimes vague, and the results nonsensical. Plot points just happen with little explanation. It made it hard to get actually involved with the book.
It's not really a compact novel, it's a long, short story that badly needs some editing. I started it, but gave up about page 77. I haven't read anything else by Bruce Sterling, but this was not an interesting read.
Graham Crawford
This a really a three and a half star book. Its a very funny read, with quirky characters, but the ending is a bit scrappy. The earlier sections worked better for me - the James Bondesque satire not so much.
Lance Ahern
Enjoyed it, if you're looking for a standard cyber-techno thriller, this isn't it, but it really reflects a lot of the post 9/11 anger.
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Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his seminal work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.
More about Bruce Sterling...
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology Islands in the Net Schismatrix Plus Heavy Weather The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

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“There was something inhuman about being dutiful workaholics, something that wrecked marriages, shattered families, and made a man and woman shrivel up inside. It was going to kill them both someday. Without his wife and his child, hinges had popped loose in Van’s soul. He could feel that something quiet but vital to his humanity was slowly going down the shredder.” 0 likes
“To run the world, you had to find it in yourself to grit your teeth and just fake it. Just stare them down, never back off.” 0 likes
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