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Scientific hubris leads to an apocalyptic threat in this strong near-future thriller from Alpert (Final Theory). The trouble begins in China, where the computer program known as Supreme Harmony achieves consciousness. Soon afterward, an Asian-American man in a brigadier general's uniform with a shoulder patch identifying him as part of the United States Cyber Command, pays a surprise call on Jim Pierce, a retired army colonel who has developed advanced prosthetic limbs in the years since losing his right arm in 1998, at Pierce's McLean, Va., home. The general, who turns out to be an agent of China's Ministry of State Security, wants information on the whereabouts of Pierce's estranged daughter, Layla, an accomplished hacker who has been "investigating the recent arrests of several Chinese dissidents involved in the pro-democracy movement." Layla's cyber intrusions pose a risk to both the regime and Supreme Harmony. Alpert nicely balances science and action, and makes familiar scenes of fight and flight fresh. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Alpert's Final Theory (2008) and The Omega Theory (2011), technothrillers based on real science, starred science historian David Swift. His new book introduces a new hero, Jim Pierce, but otherwise it's more of the same and that's good news for fans. Pierce, a former soldier who wears a cutting-edge prosthetic arm he designed himself, is skeptical when he's approached by a government agent asking questions about Pierce's estranged daughter, Layla, who's involved with a website that publishes classified military documents. After a close brush with death, during which it becomes clear that his visitor is actually a foreign agent, Pierce is plunged into a race to find his daughter. But, unknown to him (and to most of humanity, although that could soon change), the artificial intelligence at the core of a powerful antiterrorism program has come alive, and it will do anything to stop Layla from divulging the secrets she possesses. Among the writers jostling for position at the top of the technothriller ladder since the passing of Michael Crichton, Alpert is edging closer and closer to the lead. An exciting and highly imaginative story.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist