Epredator (Cont3xt, 2016) tells the story of a young coder who’s suddenly able to manipulate reality in this sci-fi novel.
Roisin Kincade is a programmer who loves to use her code to manipulate the digital world. She doesn’t consider herself a hacker, although she relishes the depictions of hackers in movies and views her work with a significant amount of romanticism. When she accidentally types a Linux command into Twitter instead of into her command-line interface, she expects her tech-savvy Twitter followers to make jokes at her expense. Instead, she receives a message from a mysterious account that seems to be inviting her to hack into a simple text game: “She was hacking, by invitation, but on a public channel. Another memory flowed past of a green screen and the phrase ‘Shall we play a game?’ ”—a reference to the 1983 movie WarGames. The new game contains a list of objects that are strikingly similar to those in Roisin’s own room. It also contains a list of commands, and when she enters one of them to move a virtual “mug” to a new position, she finds that the actual mug in her room has also physically moved. She then dives into the program to see how much she can manipulate reality—a hacker’s dream. What she doesn’t immediately realize is that there may be other entities watching her actions or that she may have unintentionally wandered into a trap. Epredator relates this tale in the irreverent, enthusiastic language of Roisin’s techie subculture—full of coding jargon, pop-culture references, and internet slang—and he manages to explain just enough to make even Luddite readers feel at home. Roisin is a charmingly guileless protagonist, and the overall plot replicates the puzzle-style computer games that are referenced in the text. The story contains just the right combination of paranoia, wonder, and fantasy to make for a fun bit of escapism, and the author even manages to land a satisfying final twist as well.
A short but punchy tale of a techie who gets in too deep.