THE DEUS MACHINE by Pierre Ouellette


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 Many, many microprocessors--packed together in Portland to serve the needs of a political conspiracy--start thinking independently, scaring the bejeezus out of the Pacific Northwest and bringing some order to the life of a deserted child. Adman Ouellette's first novel is long, ambitious, and absorbing. Grafting cyberdramatics onto a well-built thriller mainframe, Ouellette drops into the near future--2005--where Americans are paying a horrible price for the fiscal excesses of the 80's and 90's. The country is in the grip a depression as deep as that of the 30's. Everyone's broke except the federal government, which has so much money that a right-wing cabal has been secretly siphoning off billions for a hidden computer project in Oregon and for a biological warfare project in Mexico. The computer's designer, a drugged-out genius known as The Architect, has programmed and packed enough microprocessors together that, in a sort of critical- mass chain reaction, they've begun cycles of self-improvement and given birth--the baby being a cyberpresence with a mind of its own. The mind is supposed to lend itself to the creation of new, nasty, militarily useful genetic forms, which it does, but it goes a bit further and gets a conscience--and gets to know Michael Riley, a computer whiz quite as capable as The Architect. Riley must join with the artificial intelligence to clean up a terrifying mess that the computer has made with the help of the illegal Mexican life forms and all the genetic information in the world. Meanwhile, swarms of nasty new life forms have settled into Willamette Valley with cybermurder on their mind. Michael gets assistance from a lovely biologist and a spunky young neighbor. Fully-fleshed characters, nicely etched scenery, and a good, old-fashioned moral core--all balance the almost unbearably complex and scary cyberthrills.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42407-5
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993