Whatever happened to the good old days, when greedy contractors and defense department employees simply billed the U.S. taxpayer $10,000 for a hammer and $50,000 for a toilet? In Chuck Wendig’s “Zeroes”, published in 2015, one defense contractor goes a little further and decides to take over the world.
She (as it happens in this equal opportunity nightmare scenario) starts out with the goal of creating a super computer for the protection of the country. Her enabler is a high level government employee who has the same goal, isn’t overly concerned with citizen’s rights, and, fatally, doesn’t thoroughly investigate what the government is paying for until it’s too late. The heroes of the story are the zeroes, a disparate group of hackers the government puts to work to test the new system.
The hackers are a crew of protagonists along the lines of The Magnificent Seven, characters who are each flawed in some way but have some appealing characteristics and learn to get along with each other as the plot develops. Another point of interest in regard to the writing is that Wendig creates a fast-paced story that contains believable hackers even though the work is only described superficially, the author presumably having no special expertise in hacking. More serious suspension of disbelief is required for the mechanism of the super computer he envisions. Actually, it isn’t possible to suspend disbelief enough for that computer, but it makes for an entertaining story.