SOFTWAR by Thierry & Denis Beneich Breton
Kirkus Star


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Romantic, amusing computer thriller that is less thrilling than gripping in its comedic characterizations and high-tech details. First published (and acclaimed) last year in France, its two French authors are a Parisian computer programmer (Breton) and a New York City-based free-lance writer (Beneich). The story moves from Cambridge, Mass., and Krasnoyarsk in Central Siberia to Paris, Moscow, and Geneva. Like Anna Karenina, Madame Y. N. Voronkov (called Yulya), the director of the computer research institute at Krasnoyarsk, endures a cold marriage--to Colonel Sergei Voronkov of state security--while living in the past. At Cambridge, as a student, she fell in love with her computer-programmer professor, Brendan Barnes (telling him with youthful bluntness, ""My name is Yulya."" ""I know."" ""I want to make love with you"") and had one great year of mad love before returning to Russia and finding herself pregnant with their daughter Svetlana. Eleven years or so pass and they have not seen each other. He's married a beautiful international journalist, but remained childless. Now Brendan and Yulya are rivals of sorts: he's trying to blow up her software for the CIA's Special Task Force on Counterintelligence. Blow it up? With an undetectable softbomb, or software bug planted in her computer program for Russia's global weather-forecasting. It seems that France has sold Russia an old Univac and some sophisticated weather software, and the CIA's Operations Section has bugged the software with a secret signal which, when activated, turns the whole weather database to garbage. A softbomb is only a few lines of programming code, surreptitiously inserted. And when Yulya's big new computer does turn to garbage--and a day later returns to perfect working order--her best friend spends four days and nights locating the CIA bug in the software. . .then is arrested! Yulya finds herself pitted against Brendan. . . Computer lore, spies, and hearts & flowers, a sweet combo.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1985
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston