In the first works I read Hertling’s provided such a fresh take on the trope of artificial intelligence in Avagadro Series when writing suggestions in email turn into sentience. He made the impossible seem plausible. Clippy takes over the world.
Hertling did the same in Kill Process but turned his focus of insight more into human intelligence. More the human condition actually.
The book tells the story of Angie, an OG hacker, who by day runs the data bases for a social media company and by night murders men who beat their wives and girlfriends. She uses the data from the social network to find her next victim or victim in need. You decide, because Hertling paints a wonderful portrayal of complex characters that leaves nothing in black or white.
In her quest Angie comes to realize that social networks share many similar traits with abusive spouses and decides to take it down. After meeting other #IndieWeb advocates Angie launches a new network that could topple more than the Internet.
Real Female Characters in techno thrillers. No, Like Really Real…I mean It
Hertling drives the narrative with complex and real characters. It is refreshing to not only see female characters well written in science fiction but to see women as high powered tech executives, sensitive and driven, serial killers, and as different from each other as they would be compared to anyone else regardless of where they fall.
The supporting cast Hertling paints around Angie add credence to the complexity. To the point I almost have to believe there is a ghost writer or a true critical friend who provided keen insight in how to write women this authentic. I couldn’t do it.
Technology. On Point
Like all of his work Hertling’s novel provided technical credence to support the strong character development in the tale. The description of hacking from early phreaking in the 80’s to setting up a private Tor network provide a deep history for the audience.
The description of how social networks and large corporations use our data should send shivers up our spines. Hertling does not write sci-fi here. This is our reality and Hertling lays bare why we need an #IndieWeb solution.
Hertling weaves the IndieWeb, which is a decentralized collective of folks simply believing in controlling your web by relying on your own domain and not the social networks like the fictional Tomo in Kill Process. In fact, chapter 13 I think, Hertling provides a better elevator speech to what the IndieWeb is and why we need it than I have heard from most.
Overall if you enjoy techno-thrillers where the dark side of future possibilities using today’s technologies and need a break from Thrillers where women are the prize I would highly recommend Kill Process.