Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow [Book Review]
Attack Surface is the third in a loose trilogy that started with Little Brother. I’ve only read the first, Homeland passed me by. Attack Surface was readable and it stood well on its own as a story. Like the others, Attack Surface is a cautionary tale on how technology is being misused.
The protagonist is Masha, a tech savvy woman from the bay area. She sold out and joined the DHS in Little Brother. Since then she’s worked for private contractors providing surveillance know-how for governments. When we first meet her she’s working both ends in Slovstakia, a semi-fictional former Soviet satellite state with a repressive regime. Her employer is giving the government technology to spy on its protesting citizens. Masha has adopted some of the protestors to assuage her conscience.
Attack Surface is part morality tale, and part horrible warning. Most of what we see in the story is very real, although perhaps not quite happening in the way that it’s presented. At least I think we’d like to hope not. Masha ends up back in the US. She gets caught up fighting her former employers as they spy on Black Lives Matter organisers and anyone that comes into contact with them.
Overall the book gripped me strongly. There was a great story that I just wanted to keep reading, with plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing a bit. The only reason it didn’t quite rate five stars was there were a number of fairly noticeable information dumps in the earlier parts of the story. While I get that a technology driven story needs readers to understand some of the detail, it got in the way for me. It was noticeable in the afterword that Cory Doctorow shed 40k words in the edit. That suggests perhaps these were the more necessary explanations. However I’d rather have footnotes I could dip into if I didn’t understand.