Computer thriller by a master programmer who has given us Breakthrough (1997), about a revolutionary new chip that uses bacterial proteins to fabricate a reproducible molecular memory.
Firewall has world catastrophe in mind. Bruce Tucker, top CIA agent and later a Secret Service agent as well, lost his wife and son through a CIA foul-up and—although he thinks he's killed their assassin, Siv Jarrko—quits the intelligence services to set up his own executive protection service (which keeps billionaires from being kidnapped, assassinated, and so on). Bruce is hired to protect Mortimer Fox, who headed the building of Firewall, a huge, supersecret Manhattan Project–like endeavor for the government. Even more secretly, Fox has built Creator, an artificial intelligence that duplicates Fox's own knowledge, personality, emotions and background, and personally can control Firewall through a back entrance to its program. Fox alone knows about Creator, although he has made his estranged daughter Monica memorize half of the code that will open it. Then he’s assassinated, seemingly by Siv Jarrko (but really by Siv’s vengeful brother Vlad, who loves to disembowel living victims, gouge out their eyes, and salt hundreds of tiny razor cuts—when in a good mood). What is Firewall? A satellite orbiting 230 miles way out that houses an unbreakable communications system that holds all our nuclear launch codes, encryption codes, military GPS navigation (controls every bomber, ship, etc.), identifies all the covert officers and agents in the CIA, contains all classified government records and has all the secrets, dirty and otherwise, of every US intelligence agency (the FBI, NSA, etc.). When Vlad murders four CIA agents interviewing Tucker in a park, Tucker gets blamed and goes on the run, bearing the other half of the code, teams up with Monica in Italy and fights the baddies (North Korea) via Creator, whose AI overheats through excess emotion about the world's suffering.
Big fun and fast-paced. For all nerds.