[Plura-list] Booklist on "Red Team Blues"

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Fri Jan 13 05:58:51 EST 2023

Read today's issue online at: https://pluralistic.net/2023/01/13/marty-hench/


Next Weds (1/16) at 1530hPT, I'm joining my co-author Rebecca Giblin and our host, Brad Stone, for an Internet Archive/Coil livecast about our book Chokepoint Capitalism:



Today's links

* Booklist on "Red Team Blues": "Another winner from an sf wizard who
has always proved himself adept at blending genres for both adults and teens."

* Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.

* This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading


🤳🏽 Booklist on "Red Team Blues"

I've published more than 20 books, and I *still* get nervous in the few months leading up to a new book's release. It's one thing for my agent, my editor and my wife to like one of my novels - but what about the rest of the world? Will the book soar, or bomb? I've had books do both, and the latter is No Fun. Scarifying, even.

My next novel is *Red Team Blues,* which Tor Books and Head of Zeus will publish on April 25. It is a significant departure for me in many ways: it's a heist novel about cryptocurrency, grifters and crime bosses, the first book in a trilogy that runs in reverse chronological order (!):


The hero of *RTB* is Marty Hench, a forensic accountant and digital pioneer. Marty got his start when he discovered spreadsheets as an MIT undergrad. He got so deep into the world of Visicalc and Lotus 1-2-3 that he dropped out of university, moved to Silicon Valley, and pitted his ability to find money with spreadsheets against people who use spreadsheets to hide money.

RTB opens with Marty on the verge of retirement, when he is roped in for one last job - a favor to a friend who has built a new cryptocurrency that is in danger of imploding thanks to some stolen keys. If Marty can recover the keys, his customary 25% commission will come out to more than a quarter of a billion dollars. How could he say no?

I wrote this book in a white-hot fury of the sort that I underwent in 2006, when I wrote *Little Brother* in eight weeks flat. *Red Team Blues* took *six* weeks. It's *good*. I sent it to my Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor. The next day, I got this email:

> That.
> Was.
> A! Fucking! Ride!
> Whoa!

That night, I rolled over in bed to find my wife wide awake at 2AM, staring at her phone. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Finishing your book," she said. "I had to find out how it ended."

I loved writing this book, and after I finished it, I found that Marty Hench was still living in my mind. How could I keep writing about him, though? *Red Team Blues* is his final adventure. Then, one day, it hit me: now that I knew how Marty's career *ended*, I could write about how it *started*.

I could write prequels - as many as I chose - retelling the storied career of Martin Hench, the scambusting forensic accountant of Silicon Valley. I pitched my editor on two prequels - one a midcareer adventure, the other his origin story - and my editor bought 'em. For the first time in decades, in dozens of books, I'm writing a trilogy.

It's nearly done. I finished the second book, "The Bezzle" - about private prisons and financial corruption - late last year. I'm 80%+ through the final one, "Picks and Shovels," AKA Marty's origin story, a caper involving an early eighties PC-selling pyramid scheme run by a Mormon bishop, a Catholic priest and an orthodox rabbi, who run their affinity scam through a company called "Three Wise Men Computers."

But for all that I love these books, love *writing* these books, I am still nervous. Butterflies-in-stomach. I got some reassurance in December, when the *New Yorker*'s Chris Byrd said some extraordinarily kind things about *RTB* when he profiled me:


Despite that, though, I continued to have vicious pangs of self-doubt, imposter syndrome, superstitious dread, haunting memories of the mentors and writers I admired as a young man whose careers were snatched away by changing industry trends, market shifts, or just a bad beat. I love this book. Would other people? I'm not a crime writer. Ugh.

Then, this week, my publicist Laura Etzkorn at Tor sent me the first trade review for *RTB*, *Booklist*'s starred notice, by David Pitt:

> Well, talk about timely. In the wake of the late-2022 collapse of cryptocurrency comes this novel about a forensic accountant who’s hired to work a case involving electronic theft of cryptocurrency. The guy’s name is Martin Hench; he’s in his late sixties, with decades of experience, and he thinks he’s seen it all. Until now. Doctorow, author of such novels as The Rapture of the Nerds (2012) Homeland (2013), and Pirate Cinema (2012), is a leading force in cyberpunk fiction, and here he mixes cyberpunk with traditional private eye motifs (if Martin Hench feels a bit like Philip Marlowe or even Jim Rockford, that’s probably not a coincidence).

> Doctorow's novels are always feasts for the imagination and the intellect, and this one is no exception: it’s jam-packed with cutting-edge ideas about cybersecurity and crypto, and its near-future world is lovingly detailed and completely believable. Another winner from an sf wizard who has always proved himself adept at blending genres for both adults and teens.

To quote a certain editor of my acquaintance:

> That.
> Was.
> A! Fucking! Ride!
> Whoa!

Maybe this writing thing is gonna work out after all.

ETA: Well, this is pretty great. Shortly after I finished this, *Library Journal* published its review of Red Team Blues, by Andrea Dyba:

> Cyber detective, forensic accountant—whatever his  title, 67-year-old Marty Hench is one of those rare people who tries to  prevent financial crimes. He’s spent his whole career as a member of the  Red Team, as an attacker, one who always has the advantage. Now ready  for retirement, he’s living it up in California and trying to decide  what he wants to do when he grows up when he’s hired by an old friend.  Danny Lazer, the founder of the new crypto titan Trustlesscoin, needs  Marty to recover stolen cryptographic keys and prevent the type of  financial crisis that people lose their lives over. Marty delves into  the shady underside of the private equity world, where he’s caught  between warring international crime syndicates. The sincere and  intelligent writing has a noir feel to it, enhanced by Marty’s dry  humor. There’s a sense of satisfaction as this unassuming retired man  dishes out comeuppance. 

> VERDICT  This absorbing and ruthless cyberpunk thriller from Doctorow (Attack Surface)  tackles modern concerns involving cryptocurrency, security, and the  daunting omnipotence of technology. Great for fans of Charles Stross.



🤳🏽 Hey look at this

* The 25th Anniversary Edition of Little, Big, by John Crowley https://littlebig25.com

* ‘If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’: why we need new stories on climate https://www.theguardian.com/news/2023/jan/12/rebecca-solnit-climate-crisis-popular-imagination-why-we-need-new-stories (h/t Roz Doctorow)

* Comcast agents reject poor people who qualify for free Internet https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2022/12/comcast-agents-mistakenly-reject-some-poor-people-who-qualify-for-free-internet/


🤳🏽 This day in history

#20yrsago Trent Latte: black coffee and steamed milk in separate but equal portions https://news.npr.org/programs/waitwait/archrndwn/2003/jan/030111.kramers.html

#15yrsago Filmmakers use DMCA to go after negative review https://web.archive.org/web/20080116051914/http://www.yourvideostoreshelf.com/index.php/20080114/filmmaker-suing-me-over-bad-review/

#15yrsago Ford: Car owners are pirates if they distribute pictures of their own cars https://web.archive.org/web/20080115223922/http://www.bmcforums.com/showthread.php?t=42402&page=3

#15yrsago Podcast of Bruce Sterling’s HACKER CRACKDOWN has concluded https://memex.craphound.com/2008/01/13/podcast-of-bruce-sterlings-hacker-crackdown-has-concluded/

#10yrsago Aaron Swartz digital archive https://archive.org/details/aaronsw

#10yrsago Expert witness describes Aaron Swartz’s “crimes” https://unhandled.com/2013/01/12/the-truth-about-aaron-swartzs-crime/

#5yrsago Intel’s Management Engine, a secure-computer-within-your-computer, is really, really insecure https://press.f-secure.com/2018/01/12/intel-amt-security-issue-lets-attackers-bypass-login-credentials-in-corporate-laptops/


🤳🏽 Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

* Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. Yesterday's progress: 528 words (94483 words total)

* The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW

* A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

* The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, a nonfiction book about interoperability for Verso. REVISIONS COMPLETE - AWAITING COPYEDIT

* Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. ON SUBMISSION

* Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. ON SUBMISSION

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Daddy-Daughter Podcast, 2022 Edition https://craphound.com/podcast/2022/12/12/daddy-daughter-podcast-2022-edition/

Upcoming appearances:

* Internet Archive livecast on Chokepoint Capitalism with Rebecca Giblin and Brad Stone, Jan 19, 1530hPT

* Library Learning Experience/American Library Association (New Orleans), Jan 27-30

* Chokepoint Capitalism: Can It Be Defeated? (UCL Faculty of Laws), Feb 1

* Future of Arts, Culture & Technology, ACMI, (Melbourne), Feb 14

* Australian Digital Alliance Copyright Forum (Canberra), Feb 17

* Antitrust, Regulation and the Political Economy (Brussels), Mar 2

Recent appearances:

* The Majority Report with Sam Seder

* Decoder:

* Plutopia

Latest books:

* "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.

Upcoming books:

* Red Team Blues: "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books, April 2023

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.


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