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<< Previous: Eve of the Debate | Next: The Kicking Ass Blog >>

Books: Digital Fortress
Thursday, 2004 September 30 - 12:04 am
Having enjoyed The Da Vinci Code, I decided to read one of Dan Brown's earlier works.

I now see why Dan Brown was criticized for The Da Vinci Code, now that I've read his novel about computer cryptographic systems, an area in which I have considerably more expertise. In his book Digital Fortress, Brown shows that he has an incomplete mastery of the subject, and seems to be more interested in setting up a screenplay adaptation than writing a good novel.

The central element of the book, an unbreakable code, is riddled with plot holes. Supposedly, someone has concocted an algorithm for an unbreakable code, and encrypted the source code to that algorithm with the code itself. He is holding the NSA ransom by threatening to make the key to the code available. Here's the glaring plot hole: the key is useless without an unencrypted program (in executable binary form) that will run the algorithm. If such a program were available, then the algorithm could be derived from it (even if the key itself cannot). So either the supposed cryptography experts in this novel are clueless about this, or Brown expects that we won't see through it.

This problem (and others like it) ruined the book for me, and exposed the rest of the novel as cheap action-movie stunts.

Rating: 2 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: booksreviews

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