Returning to the world of Little Brother and Homeland, Attack Surface takes us five minutes into the future, to a world where everything is connected and everyone is vulnerable.
Masha Maximow has made some bad choices in life – choices that hurt people. But she’s also made some pretty decent ones. In the log file of life, however, she can’t quite work out
which side of the ledger she currently stands.
Masha works for Xoth Intelligence, an InfoSec company upgrading the Slovstakian Interior Ministry’s ability to spy on its citizens’ telecommunications with state-of-the-art software (at least, as state-of-the-art as Xoth is prepared to offer in its middle-upper pricing tier).
Can you offset a day-job helping repressive regimes spy on their citizens with a nighttime hobby where you help those same citizens evade detection? Masha is about to find out.
Pacy, passionate, and as current as next week, Attack Surface is a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and
blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of many
books: In Real Life, a graphic novel; Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, a book about earning a living in the Internet age; and Homeland, the award winning, best selling sequel to the 2008 YA novel Little Brother. Cory has been on the frontline of international debates on privacy, copyright and freedom of information for over a decade.
This feels like a very prescient novel, with its protests and dodgy tech companies and complicit governments. It feels very 2020 minus the virus that’s killing people and the fact that governments are no longer pretending to care about people more than money.
Masha has been building spyware and surveillance for tech companies to sell to dangerous and unstable governments, to watch their own citizens and turn righteous anger at injustice into terrorism charges and making people just disappear.
She becomes steadily disillusioned by this and realises she’s on the wrong side of history and what’s right.
I don’t even pretend to understand how some very clever people can do all these things with computers, but I can see that there needs to be more checks and balances in place. Things need to be more transparent and honest, governments should remember they work for the people, not against them.
While this is taken to extremes in the book, some of the scenes of police brutality we’ve all witnessed in the last few years, and especially the last few months, aren’t far off the grim future Masha and her friends are living through and trying to fight against.
Incredibly powerful, insightful, and actually quite funny, this is very much a book that speaks to our times and reminds us all to pay attention.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.