John Sundman’s Acts of the Apostles is a thriller that successfully blends computers, biology and conspiracy into a frothy brew. Paul Aubrey, a software manager whose career has seen better days, finds his life turned upside down and shoved into the twilight zone one day. As he becomes aware of the ultimate hostile takeover plan of a transnational corporation, the story follows his struggles to ferret out the truth and his struggle to save the world.

This story is thankfully populated with real characters. Aubrey isn’t a born-hero, Luke Skywalker type; he’s just a shlub with a marriage on the rocks. Aubrey doesn’t always make the right decisions and there are consequences for this.

Most of all, I enjoyed the book’s setting. Much of the story takes place in Boston and San Francisco. So familiar am I with those locations, that I spotted a factual error. Note to Sundman: You can’t catch the Blue line from Park street; you need to go to Government center on the Green line.

It’s not only the geography of the book that’s familiar. Sundman does a reasonable job of describing real computer tech, such as PGP, chip timings and Usenet (although I’m uncertain what a “UNIX formated” disk is. ext2? minix? ufs?). Of course, Usenet spawned conspiracy is a thing after my own black heart and there’s a healthy dash of that here.

I read this book for two reasons:

  1. the late O’Reilly editor-in-chief Frank Willison spooged about it
  2. I meant John Sundman at a conference and he said his book didn’t suck

That’s all the recomendation I needed.

While I don’t want to say “it has too many notes”, I do feel like the book could have lost about 50-80 pages of Aubrey meanderings in the middle without destroying the story arc. I hate jet-setting in real life and I began to feel a little jet-lagged myself! But don’t let that stop you for this fun book. You’ll enjoy the ride.

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