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Dopamine

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“Have you lost your mind? They’ll kill you. Are you willing to literally bet your life on—”
“On my own technical expertise? Yes. Always.”

It was supposed to be just another software job. It wasn't supposed to involve dodging bullets, igniting explosions, out-driving hitmen, or bluffing his way through the dens of international crime lords. Danny's big brain has always served him well at a workstation or a soldering bench, but will he be smart enough to survive the engineering challenge of a lifetime?

Onetime computer whiz-kid Danny still dreams of making it big as an inventor and technologist in the "digital revolution". But when a fat-fingered email flub from tech investor Jason Tuttle destroys Danny's latest company, he takes stock of his career and realizes that that ship's long since sailed. Using some inconvenient information, Danny "persuades" Jason to give him another employment opportunity. But his new assignment may be much more than he bargained for.

Jason has his sights set on a small, highly secretive biotechnology company called Tungsten Medical Technologies. They've been impossibly tight-lipped about what they're developing in there, but Jason is willing to use any means necessary to find out. That's where Danny comes in. His mission: hack into Tungsten and steal their pharmaceutical research.

At first, Danny and his team of semi-competent geeks relish the chance to play-act as cybercriminals, but they soon discover they aren't the only ones interested in the inscrutable biotech firm. Their ill-timed computer shenanigans interrupt an armed break-in of the laboratory by the Russian mafia, and Danny lands squarely in the crosshairs of a local cocaine kingpin. He soon finds himself hunted by drug dealers and exploited by Machiavellian corporate moguls in a battle over a test tube of genetically engineered bacteria.

With the help of Tina, an amateur microbiologist desperate for professional recognition, Danny must use his technical skills to elude his powerful pursuers — and, with luck, even beat them at their own game.

Dopamine is a present-day cyberpunk novel — and a celebration of the fact that such a thing as "a present-day cyberpunk novel" is even possible. Featuring some of the most accurate and accessible depictions of computer hacking and biotechnology ever to appear in a work of fiction, Dopamine is a wild ride for anyone who marvels at knowing that the real world we live in today was once strictly the realm of far-fetched fantasy. Whether you're looking for a high-tech crime thriller; a meticulously researched diamond-hard work of science fiction set twenty nanoseconds in the future; or a subtle exploration of the complex interplay between the worlds we imagine and the realities we create, you'll find your drug of choice within these pages.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

Published April 8, 2016

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Mikhail Voloshin

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5 stars
21 (42%)
4 stars
14 (28%)
3 stars
9 (18%)
2 stars
4 (8%)
1 star
1 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
3,052 reviews8 followers
November 20, 2019
( Format : Audiobook )
"Paranoia was a virtue. "
I was never a gamer and know nothing about hacking, nor , to my knowlsdge, have I met any nasty, drug dealing Russian criminals, but I thoroughly enjoyed this rather crazy novel which actually felt like it contained real, if very odd, characters. And it's funny as well as violent, as someone said, 'Bourne Identity starring the Three Stooges.'
Some great science fiction pictures drawn in the mind, like the HERF gun, cobbled together, which stops energy items like electro magnetic pumps from working, and the idea of three fairly incompetent hackers taking on the corporations and, almost by accident, sometimes succeeding: it really is a needs world delight. And gives total non tech idiots like myzelf, a delicious glimpse into the comedy of their world.

Exciting story, too.

Narration by Daniel Casper is good and the audio experience is made even more interesting by a full cAst taking on the voicing of all know the pritagonists. It gave a different t feel from the more traditional one person reading.
The whole was good, very enjoyable, chaotic fun, plus a little bit scary in it's implications. It is a book I can envisage myself rereading in the future. My thanks to the rights holder of Dopamine, who, at my request via Audiobook Boom, freely gifted me with a complimentary copy. Recommended for all who enjoy not just S.F.stories but everyone who likes fast paced thrillers and a little bit of fun. Give it a try: I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
Profile Image for Jesse.
1,486 reviews3 followers
November 28, 2019
First of all: "This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review."

This is actually more of a 3.5 star read for me. It was explained to me before listening to this audiobook, that it is a work of "hard science fiction" with "technically accurate" hacking and science. And it's true! It was very descriptive, very accurate, and very intense. And those parts of the story were really enjoyable. However, outside of the scientific, the story suffered from implausibility, outrageousness, and downright corniness. I don't want to believe this is true, but it would seem that in order to write a really great story, you have to fudge on the science a little (a la The Martian or Ready Player One), and if you focus on the science, the story suffers.

The production quality was pretty good, the narrator added to the intensity and overall excitement of the book.

Overall, I found this a fun book to listen too, even though I rolled my eyes and hung my head a little on occasion.
Profile Image for N.V. Cefalo.
157 reviews5 followers
December 31, 2019
*This book was given to me by the author at my request, and I provided this voluntary, unbiased review.*

4.9/5

This was a wild ride, and I was on the edge of my seat for the whole thing. Right from the start, it is filled with action, is very witty, and is still a great concept storywise. I appreciated all the Easter eggs in the story, as well as doing a good job explaining IT and Biotech concepts. There were times I LOL'd, as well as bit my nails! The characters were unique, though could of used a tiny bit more development. Voloshin did an excellent job with this story, and just as important: the narration of this story was SO GOOD. A full cast of voiced characters rounded out the performance of story and kept it interesting. Did I imagine myself as Danny in this story? You bet I did; and that's the difference. I highly recommend this book to anyone - especially if you can get a copy of the audiobook, you will not be disappointed. Well done!
April 12, 2020
What starts as a breathless adventure that teased a theme that appeals to me very much, ended up leaving me confused as to whether or not I even liked it.

The 2 “intimacy” scenes were not necessarily out of place until they dragged on long enough for me to wonder if the book had suddenly turned into an erotic romance novel. These, along with other sections contributed to the book having pacing issues.

The opening was fantastic however, and when the book does get a move on it is a fast-paced engrossing affair. I loved parts of it.

But those parts were soured by a constant need for suspension of disbelief. The characters do insane things for the sake of the story, and they do it too often. And there are practical plot holes that aren’t resolved to my satisfaction. It feels like the world doesn’t operate in Euclidean space.

There’s a small plot twist towards the end that involves a character “changing sides” (kind of) that was extremely enjoyable.

There you have it. Good things and bad things all mixed up. Just like the book
1 review
September 12, 2020
This is definitely a great read!

100% recommend to anyone interested in reading a novel on computer hacking and biotech! It’s quite interesting the way Mikhail Voloshin depicts technology and truly brings life to the characters and scenes through out the story. 100% would recommend!!!
9 reviews
October 11, 2020
An interesting book. Having a computer background, I found this book to be clear to me, but without my background, I feel one would be lost. Though violent, there is much morality within. At times, the story seemed quite convoluted.
January 5, 2020
Good story and good tech

The computer and network tech was pretty reasonable, which I appreciated. Decent characters. Overall I will be looking for more from the author.
Profile Image for Noisy Deadlines.
226 reviews26 followers
December 1, 2020
I love a good hacker story. This one is has D&D references, a HERF gun, nerds playing with secure cameras, bio-engineering, genetics and boats. A fast paced nerdy adventure. Loved it!
Profile Image for Eric Kolb.
97 reviews6 followers
March 29, 2017
For a freshman novelist, Mikhail has put together an impressively coherent and satisfying offering in Dopamine. This is a hacking novel, but it bridges the gap between electromagnetic machine hacking and biochemical hacking. For a novel set in the startup landscape of modern Seattle, it features an unexpectedly diverse cast and manages to avoid troublesome regressive tropes.

The structure of the novel is, perhaps unsurprisingly, highly evocative of a Shadowrun pen & paper RPG campaign. The roles of characters on the team can be viewed through those terms (face, rigger, deckers, street samurai), and if you squint your imagination a little bit then you can see this tale playing out in the Seattle of the Sixth World rather than our own early twenty-teens. This isn't to suggest that the novel is derivative; anyone familiar with these kinds of games knows that a well-done campaign will be at once familiar to its players without being a copy of anything. Adapting this approach to novel-writing works well here.

The only complaint I have at all is the subtitle, "Nerds behaving badly." This is a goofy conceit that I think confers false expectations about the novel because it implies a rather negative image of nerds that it doesn't use. I work in information security, I've read and/or experienced plenty of what nerds behaving badly looks like. While there are touch points between those two spheres, the tone struck by the book is frankly a lot more positive and fun.

On the subject of hacking, what Mikhail has worked into his novel passes my litmus test for accuracy. I'll testify that what's in the book is authentic without, I believe, proving inscrutable to those of a non-technical background. This is a laudable feat; it requires more attention and research to execute but provides a more satisfying experience for readers.

One of the things I like best about Dopamine is that it's not stuck in just one area of interest. I've given most attention to its machine aspects because that's the closest affinity to my own skills and interests. But it's a novel about the frontiers of biochemistry as well, not to mention the crime thriller aspect. Often times, you'll see an author try to straddle areas of expertise and fail. Jeffrey Deaver's The Blue Nowhere comes to mind: a novel which demonstrates understanding of neither criminal investigation nor hacker culture. Dopamine does this well, because it doesn't over-invest in any subject the author isn't studied in.

Dopamine is an excellently-paced thriller that should please most any reader. I'm happy to recommend this for anyone.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Mikhail is a friend of mine going back to our college days. Nevertheless, I paid for my own copy of the book and received no compensation in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Daniel Casper.
2 reviews3 followers
November 6, 2019
As I said on Amazon...anyone with an eye for well-crafted literature will appreciate the clever gem which is “Dopamine.” Voloshin’s sheer technical brilliance shines through on every page, placing the work in the realm of hard sci-fi (despite some parts of the epilogue). Everything you read about in “Dopamine” is possible, and for that, it is compelling. Finally, a story that delivers true-to-life “hacking,” without the handwaving most authors rely on. Study up, techno-crime writers! Readers, raise your standards to this level!

But there is more to Dopamine than its technical accuracy. Where the work truly succeeds is in Voloshin’s wonderful sense of humor, strong character motives, compelling plot twists, and ability to depict action as if he were a studied surgeon, fighter, and storyteller. Both the dialogue and narration should cause you to laugh, heartily, if you have a functioning sense of humor. And if you have any degree of empathy, you will appreciate the growth in every major character introduced. It’s not often that so many character arcs are woven together in such a fine fashion. Further, Voloshin wraps all of this up in a clear theme –how the rational mind fuels the rebirth of individuals and industries via disruptive technology – clearly and poetically articulated in the climax and epilogue of the novel. Dopamine is THE FULL PACKAGE, elevating itself light-years beyond the mere pulp fiction which often shares its tropes. Indeed, on a personal note, I found the work even more amusing and gripping on my second read. I laughed. I cried. And I felt inspired.

For a work of this quality to be the first publication of a non-career novelist astounds me, and causes me to wonder what works might have been, and what might yet be, penned by Mikhail Voloshin.
Profile Image for Amy Peck.
175 reviews5 followers
September 22, 2016
Non-stop techno thrill ride

Techno / bio / orgo / philosophical all bound up in a non-stop hacker thriller. I'm not a gamer or coder and initially thought this would be way over my head but the author does a remarkable job making the technology accessible to non-techies like me.

BTW - How does one make their mark in such a rapidly evolving world or even know what that mark is supposed to be?
Profile Image for Erin.
3 reviews
August 31, 2016
ehhhhhhh
technically fun in parts
character development elementary
quick read
give it a go?
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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