Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel

  • ISBN-10: 0062201182 - Paperback $14
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 24, 2015), 384 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

The blurb:
Jeremy Stillwater is a genius with computers but not so much with people.  Maddeningly self-righteous, he's alienated his girlfriend and infuriated his Silicon Valley financiers and the government agents who saw military promise in his innovation: a program that seemed to be able to predict war.

Even Jeremy has begun to doubt the algorithm's capabilities. Then one day his computer has a message for him.  War is coming. Three days and counting until massive nuclear conflict.  

Is it real? A malicious joke? A bug?

Isolated yet relentless, Jeremy soon uncovers an ancient conspiracy of unspeakable danger.  And it will take every bit of Jeremy's stubborn ingenuity to survive another minute, let alone save the world.

In The Doomsday Equation, Matt Richtel gives us an unusual techno thriller with genius Jeremy Stillwater as the tech whiz kid who has developed algorithm that uses close to 300 metrics to compute the likelihood of the occurrence of war. The algorithm factor in widely disparate variables, including inflammatory rhetoric from politicians, the weather (invasions more often begin with clear weather), changes in the cost/price of oil and other mineral resources, etc. While the concept is brilliant, as we get to know Jeremy, his single minded dedication and aggressive nature comes across clearly but also portrays an annoying, whiny, entitled tech entrepreneur. Jeremy's default mode is rude, aggressive, and slightly paranoid. As he interacts with women, objectifying them, dismissing them, I skimmed over passages. While the plot and conflict are engrossing, I took away one star because of Jeremy and his antics.

About the Author:
Jeremy Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning technology reporter for the New York Times.  He is the author of A Deadly Wandering and the novels The Cloud and Devil's Plaything.