Havoc Hardcover – Nov 29 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Despite some pedestrian prose and stilted dialogue, this near-future thriller shows that veteran Pineiro (Cyberterror) still knows how to plot. Fueled by the author's years of experience as an engineer, the book contains enough moments of plausible techno-horror to make up for a collection of characters that might have wandered in from other thrillers. CIA star Tom Grant leaves early retirement to join two female intelligence officers investigating the theft of some top secret weapons from United States Nanotechnologies, a company that makes deadly little implants that appear to have a life of their own. Grant's former boss (thought to be dead) may have teamed with a megalomaniac German magnate in a plan to use these nasty little killers to conquer the world. But the centerpiece of the story—much more frighteningly credible than any of the humans pursuing it—is a prototype nanoassembler with a mind and an agenda all its own. Pineiro's fans will no doubt turn the pages of his latest with uncritical energy. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A retired CIA agent is lured back to active duty by a case that tests his rusting skills to their limit. During a robbery at a high-tech company, a prototype self-aware machine was inadvertently set loose. Now, Tom Grant, teaming with an ambitious CIA agent and a determined FBI investigator, must not only bring the thieves to justice but also find and stop the wayward machine before it completes its primary mission: ensuring its own survival. As usual, the author, an engineer at Advanced Micro Devices, packs the novel with plenty of high-tech gimmickry and keeps events moving at a breathless pace. But readers familiar with Pineiro's work will also note a welcome development: his characters are more human, his dialogue more realistic, and his narrative altogether smoother than ever before. Looks like Pineiro's storytelling abilities are catching up to his big ideas. Michael Crichton can start looking over his shoulder, if he hasn't been already. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The main story is that CyberWerke, an unbelievable German conglomerate bent on world domination, has stolen very dangerous nanotechnology from the United States' Nanotechnology plant. A piece of the look is Assy, a military nanorobot that is unhindred by any restraints. The kidnapped robot is a clever critter that learns fast and decides to exterminate the human race, first dispatching its captors in an interesting way.
That alone would have made a fine story and allowed for plenty of the excitement that a discussion of the potentials of nanotechnology allows.
Unfortunately, Pineiro felt the need to throw in a bunch of other stories that, in the end, distract and detract rather than add anything.
First we have disgraced CIA operative Tom Grant, renamed and with a new face, retired to a South American beach. Oh my . . . there's a yacht cruising off his beach and, look over there, two guys are sneaking around his trailer. Golly, Tom has to kill them, doesn't he? Next day, would you believe, this beautiful, young woman wearing a bikini top emerges onshore from the yacht. At this point, Pineiro leaves me in the dust with a sexual obsession that runs through the entire novel. Grant is smitten with the young woman who is a CIA agent sent to recruit him back to the agency. As a "romance" writer, Pineiro has all the grace of a horny highschool sophomore. Making matters worse, Pineiro introduces a second and then third romantic interest. Romance is simply not Pineiro's metier. In fact, he's awful at it.
So the pretty CIA agent who causes Grant's hormones to activate brings him to the scene of the great nanotechnology robbery where we meet (again for prior readers) Mike Ryan who has invented a virual reality network interface. Pineiro skillfully deployed Ryan and his football helmet device the last time around, but it doesn't play so well on this outing.
Part of the reason for this is that Pineiro, who works as a computer engineer for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), is either out of his element describing the technology he writes about --- or he has underestimated at least some of his readers. Much of his technology reads like nonsense. Pineiro throws around portentions statements like the lethal nanorobot going through millions of IF-THEN statements. Uh, even a novice programmer recognizes the fallacy of that one.
Underneath all these stories is yet another: the hunt for traitors in the CIA. And still another: the disappearance of ten top CIA agents over the past year.
In short, Pineiro mixes the plots of what should be at least two novels, if not three, and comes up short in "Havoc." It's not awful and some of the action sequences are good, even if burdend by Pineiro's nonsensical techno-babble, but "Havoc" isn't anywhere above average and may be a bit below par. The numerous editing gaffes don't help either.
The main character in the story is an ex-CIA agent in his late-40's, who has had his identity changed and is starting to enjoy his retirement on a Latin America beach... but, he is brought out of retirement to help pursue another CIA agent who has evidently "gone bad"... much intrigue, chases, and shoot-em-ups follow over the course of the 400 page book.
HAVOC suffers from a number of mistakes... most notable are the technical mistakes - for example, the author states that GPS satellites are in Geosynchronous orbit, but they are in Medium Earth Orbit. Another annoying mistake is that the Nuclear Plant in Temelin, CZ appears misspelled as Telemin in the Chapter headings - but spelled properly in the Chapter text.
"IF THERE'S ONE THING I've learned after a lifetime of clandestine work it's how to spot field surveillance as naturally as picking the occasional Latino flea that insists on camping out in the southern hemisphere of yours truly while I enjoy an early-morning beer buzz in my hammock on this remote beach in El Salvador, Central America."
Havoc begins with what could be used in a writing class as a perfect example of an overly long sentence. After reading that one long laborious line - unforgivably and inexplicably placed at the beginning of the book - I was tempted to quit then and there. But I endeavored to labor on, despite the obvious lapse in editing. Unfortunately, reading further was a just that...a labor. I was able to fight my way through less than a quarter of the book before finally admitting defeat and putting the book down for good.
I believe there *might* be a decent story in Havoc but it's suffocated by a myriad of problems that could/should have been fixed. I can't believe the same company that publishes Tor books released this.
That about wraps up the book, Havoc.
I have to admit that the story plot did keep my interest until the end. The traitors were too bumbling, and the bad guys too easy to take down, but some of the technology was nifty, and, as I stated before, I kept wanting to know how things were going to end.
Remember that old cliche about geeks being preoccupied with having sex... with another person? The author kept reminding me with his characters and their conversations.