Books by Eric L. Harry

Released: June 6, 1996

Gee whiz techno-thriller about the evolution of computers, from the author of Arc Light (1994). The human story here is blander than a Harlequin: Laura Aldrich, lonely Harvard psychology professor, whose brilliance is misunderstood by her stick-in-the-mud, tenure-seeking colleagues, receives a letter from a famous industrialist, Joseph Gray, offering her a million dollars for one week's work. She's heard terrible things about this Gray fellow, but a million dollars is a lot of money, so she boards a jet for an island in the South Pacific. Shades of Dr. No and Dr. Moreau: Gray appears to be a mad scientist, shooting off rockets and developing a super computer at depths below the ocean floor, but really he's just a lonely, overworked guy; unknown to Laura or Gray, the computer has matched the pair as perfect for each other. Anyhow, Laura's job is to analyze the computer to decide (1) if it has achieved sentience, and (2) if it's depressed. Yes—in both cases: Gray's magnificent computer is a very upset adolescent girl named Gina. Harry plays out this nonsense with a dour seriousness, but the ideas he puts forth, and his knowledge of computing, are extremely engaging. Laura's conversations with Gina, Gina's paranoid fears of an ``Other'' gradually usurping her functions, driverless cars, virtual reality, the limits of digital computing, the advent of ``neurocomputing'' and true artificial intelligence, high-level robots that evolve from infancy into adolescence, the necessity of space exploration, rocketry, and mining in space are all discussed with informed, cutting-edge flair, and it's refreshing to read a tale of this sort in which the computer fails to run amok. Harry has a first-rate speculative mind well grounded in current science. His thriller, however, ain't thrilling. On a scale of one to ten: story, one; technology, ten. ($60,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >
ARC LIGHT by Eric L. Harry
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Harry's first novel is all gloom and doom, an appropriate tone for his World War III scenario. When US President Livingston receives a tip that Russia will bomb China, he informs the Chinese, who then bomb Moscow, where General Zorin, a zealous patriot, has temporarily overthrown the government. Believing the attack to be a US initiative, Zorin launches a counterstrike against US military bases. In the tense moments before the missiles strike, Livingston gives in to military pressure and retaliates, fueling a war featuring biological, chemical, and possibly nuclear weapons. Zorin's coup is ended by the Russians, but his firing plan remains in effect: If provoked, nuclear submarines will fire upon 304 American cities. Livingston, whose decency and common sense have become political liabilities, is impeached and succeeded by his ``California Enviroweenie'' veep, who has become an opportunistic warmonger. Livingston's last supporter among the White House staff is Greg Lambert, the bright young national security advisor who may be able to negotiate with the few peace-seeking Russian statesmen. The bloody, conventional land battles feature David Chandler, the weekend reservist who leads an armored battalion in an invasion of Moscow in his first combat experience; and Marine Lance Corporal Terrence Monk, whose squadron faces an opposed landing on the eastern Russian shore. Descriptions of the physiological responses to nuclear and chemical warfare are jarring, but the secondary effects are surprising, too. After nuclear devastation in some US locations, the government contends with an economic depression caused by fearful workers who have fled the cities and sit glued to CNN and the Weather Channel. A grim tale which so successfully evokes the bleakness and terror of an impending world war that it could depress contemplative readers while titillating those just out for techno- thrills. Read full book review >