A series of seemingly unrelated events - scientists driven mad while experimenting with a cyberspace helmet; a university science project creating self-evolving and possibly self-aware software; protagonist Doug Carey's research program on creating an interface between man & machine similar to the one he has with his computer software-controlled prosthetic arm - all come together to form the main dramatic conflict in the novel Fools' Experiments.
Author Edward M. Lerner's provocative thriller, which reminded me a lot of Michael Crichton's work in style and tone, centers on an intelligent computer virus (the "Predator") that winds up infecting every software system in the US, with devestating consequences (like the flooding of a small city that wipes out most of it's population). Doug and his associates must put aside their respective (frankly petty) personal fears and differences and destroy the Predator or the country, and eventually the world, will be driven into a tecnological stone age.
Lerner, known for his collaborations with Larry Niven (go here for a review of one of their works), spins an engaging and exciting yarn. His background in computer science and physics gives the novel a hefty sense of verisimilitude via the technical jargon spoken by the scientists. At times however, the book feels drawn out, with various extraneous sequences, like the overabundance of scenes focusing on the Predator's point-of-view and the blossoming romantic realationships between some of the characters. (The latter was probably to insure a TV or movie sale.) These sequences, especially the "cute" romantic ones (I HATE cute!), plod along and distract the reader from the main conflict. (Also, what's up with the odd dig at Hollywood in Chapter 35? Yes, it advances the plot, but still...)
With a little more editing, Fools' Experiments would've been a much more taunt and lean thriller. Despite those flaws however, it's worth checking out. Reserve a copy here.