Walter Jon Williams’ Deep State
Finished up Walter Jon Williams latest technothriller Deep State. Deep State is the sequel to This is Not a Game, which I read previously. In that story, Dagmar Shaw is an accomplished puppet master of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs). While unexepectdly caught up in a revolution in Indonesia, Dagmar discovers the crowdsourcing power of her player base, which gets her out of a tough scrape. Upon returning to the states, she becomes enmeshed in a murder plot where again her players help sort out the mystery.
Deep State follows the same themes, although I think it almost takes the puppet master concept a bit far. After running a successful game in Turkey, she gets hired by some part of the US Intelligence apparatus to destabilize Turkey, which has recently succumbed to a military coup. ARGs, the Internet, and international politics collide in a quite messy fashion.
Overall, despite a number of flaws Deep State is a satisfying read. Williams didn’t reveal much hesitancy in Dagmar taking on her new gig, which I thought a bit implausible. USGOV made nary an appearance, despite political unrest in a NATO partner. And as a card carrying member of the Defense Industrial Base (TM), turning around clearances that fast is hard to fathom. Plus, her team maintained crappy OPSEC.
Also, I was waiting for a much bigger, and more cynical, reveal at the end. And the copyeditor did a subpar job in my book.
In any event, Deep State, like it’s predecessor is a solid near future thriller, with some tech elements obvious to anyone with even a shallow Internet background. If anything it’s been overtaken by events a bit, but I can still recommend Deep State.