December 12, 2011
In this smart but uneven thriller on technology run amok from bestseller Harris (The Ghost Writer), Dr. Alex Hoffmann, an American scientific refugee from the abandoned Texas supercollider who lands on his feet at CERN in Geneva, eventually goes on to found one of the world’s most successful hedge funds. Hoffmann’s secret VIXAL-4, an artificial intelligence project that forecasts financial market movements, appears to have a mind of its own, which is more than can be said for its creator. Unbeknownst even to his English avant-garde artist wife, Hoffmann has shown signs of serious mental problems in the past. Could a series of strange occurrences in the present be random, the work of a mole in Hoffman’s company, or part of his unconscious pattern of self-destruction? Pure science enjoys an uneasy existence with large profit making at the expense of downward-market spirals. Despite some less than engaging characters and a story that sags a bit, this novel’s philosophical underpinnings will keep most readers engrossed. 200,000 first printing; 5-city author tour. Agent: Michael Carlisle.