I recently had the misfortune to experience Dan Browns Digital Fortress. I tend to read low quality books when I’m traveling, for example I recently took in Clancys The Teeth of The Tiger. I don’t recommend either of them.
One of the things that is particularly jarring (apart from Clancy repeating whole paragraphs word for word), is that both authors seem to think of the low quality thriller genre as modern didactic literature. In fact it is quite common that thriller writers take something that the public knows little about, do some cursory research in that field, and then try to educate the public about it. This is not a bad thing particularly, a lot of the physics I learnt came from science fiction books and has stood me in good stead over the years, but for some reason, science fiction writers take their responsibility to include lots of good science in with the fiction much more seriously than thriller writers.
Digital Fortress was particularly terrible for that. The book was roughly a quarter composed of technical information about codes and cryptography, of which I don’t think a single statement made sense. When parts of it contradicted itself, Mr Brown somehow managed to get both parts wrong. Even the central premise of the book was shocking in it’s disregard for basic common sense, let alone domain knowledge.
So, here and now, I want to offer my services to any writer who needs some help to understand concepts in computing or cryptography. I’ll read over transcripts before they are published and I’m prepared to take the necessary time and effort (for some authors a very large amount of time and effort I expect) to explain the concepts.
I’m not sure if I have the right credentials, but since I’m about three times as intelligent as a room full of the “best geniuses in the world” that are frequently gathered together in such books, who even with their “140 IQ”s can’t quite grasp the simplest things, or for some reason take three chapters to see what normal people would see immediately, I should be plenty bright enough.
I’m not particularly an expert on cryptography, about average for a computer professional I would think, but the more expert people I know would have a breakdown trying to work out how anyone could have such a poor understanding of the concepts.
Dan Brown, I’m putting 12 points on your artistic license and sentencing you to 30000 words community service. I will be your parole officer. From now on, do not write stories set since the 1960s without talking to me first.