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Unholy Domain: 07/19/08
I remember in mid 1998, businesses were being warned about the upcoming chaos that would be caused when the computer clocks ticked over to 2000 and all those older programs that only had two digits stored would assume it was 1900. We were told to expect a mortgage meltdown (that came later but not from computer error), massive power outages and other chaos. None of that materialized except maybe in small isolated cases. Y2K as it came to be known was a source of stories, including a funny episode of Sports Night for those last couple of years.
Unholy Domain by Don Ronco feels like a bit like a Y2K story even though the year 2000 is never mentioned. It has many of the same themes: our dependence on computer technology, the potential dangers if our modern technology suddenly failed, how dependent our economy is on technology to name the three main ones. There is truth to all three of those observations but what's missing is just how much legacy technology we still have in our day to day lives. The world of Unholy Domain, though terribly broken, is too far advanced to be only twelve years in the future.
In fact, the book's timeline its biggest flaw. For a world with AIs, human looking robots, lasers, pocket computers and holograms to be fully developed and destroyed between now and 2020 requires a huge suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Had the book taken place in 2120 instead of 2020 (much as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward takes place in 2105 and has all of the same technology and urban problems), I would have spent a lot less time shaking my head and saying "No way!" every time a date was mentioned.
Take away the unbelievable time line (where the hero, David Brown is only 3 years older than my son) and Unholy Domain is an entertaining techno-thriller set in a world struggling in the middle of a new great depression brought on by a destructive and deadly computer virus known as PeaceMaker. The son of man blamed with unleashing the virus goes on a quest to clear his father's name after receiving a mysterious message from him. In his search he finds himself in the middle of a three sided tug of war. Ignore the improbable set up and enjoy the ride.
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