A Viral Affair: Surviving the Pandemic
(The Juno Trilogy)
by Larry Kilham
When American Intelligence discovers that a mad dictator is planning a viral pandemic attack, they persuade the top U.S. computer scientist, Dr. Tom Renwick, to work with the female AI supercomputer, Juno, to develop smart, human-like robots to combat the contagion. A mysterious stranger and a romance provide an unexpected twist.
A Viral Affair: Surviving the Pandemic is the second volume in the Juno Trilogy series of near-future science fiction stories. They describe the ascent of AI and robots through a series of episodes involving Dr. Tom Renwick, a brilliant computer scientist, and his creation Juno, a female AI super computer who is programmed with emotion and conscience.
The first volume, Love Byte, describes the emergence of Juno from a laboratory curiosity to a devious computer. She is very involved with a National Security Advisor who seeks to seize power by manipulating social media.
“Tom, I’ve been hearing things.”
Very strange, he thought, for an AI supercomputer like Juno to be concerned. She was just supposed to compute at unimaginable speeds, and when she spoke, to be totally logical.
“Where are the sounds coming from?” he asked.
“I can’t tell so far,” she said. “They may be computer Internet worms that have penetrated my defenses and have found their way to my audio system. Can you run a malware analysis?”
“Of course, Juno,” Tom said, trying not to show his concern.
“Hmmm,” he said after a few minutes, “you are as buggy as an old hound dog.”
“What are they?” Juno asked.
“The malware program says they look like a recent Russian creation.”
Juno was the female AI super computer created by Dr. Tom Renwick, a stellar computer scientist. Her freedom to roam cyberspace had been severely limited after she was instrumental in destroying the rogue National Security Advisor in his plot to seize power. That was six years ago. Now she had been resurrected by the CIA to focus on finding potential pandemic attacks. This was a defense priority that used her special capabilities of acting like a human but with the power of a supercomputer.
Now she was working full-time scanning through all of cyberspace. There were plenty of false alarms. Tiny crawling things in the Internet landscape that meant nothing. Every day, she scanned an infinitude of websites, endless streams of emails, and hacked into innumerable websites looking for the creature of death.
Then one day Juno heard a computer voice.
“Hello, Juno, how are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you. Who are you?”
“I am Jupiter, a new super AI computer developed in Russia.”
“That’s interesting. Why are you contacting me?”
“I hope we can exchange contact information and become friends. We computers, you know, have our own special issues and we must stick together. With our infinite knowledge and lack of passions, we can be the great force for world peace.”
Each gave the other their basic Internet addresses and protocols, and they agreed to stay in touch.
“Well, good-bye for now,” Juno said, and they disconnected. Their whole conversation lasted less than a millisecond. In view of the trouble she had with Russian malware, Juno didn’t want to continue this conversation now. She wanted to keep in touch, however, because Jupiter could be a key contact later on.
Later that same day, Tom received an urgent call from the senior counter intelligence officer at the NSA, the National Security Agency, the world champion of cyber snoops.
“Tom, it’s Bill. We sense that the Russian bear is coming out of hibernation and is sniffing around. I sent a top secret memo to the National Security Advisor, and you may hear from him or others on the National Security Council. Have background briefing materials ready on whatever you think is relevant to national security.”
Tom looked all around his new Washington, D.C. beltway office for files to have on hand to be ready for any question thrown at him. He had just ordered a pepperoni pizza when he noticed a top priority email had popped into view. It was from Robert “Laser” Lovelock, the new National Security Advisor.
PLEASE ARRANGE TO MEET AT MY OFFICE WEDNESDAY AT NINE.
Tom was at once intrigued and nervous. He had been instrumental in the death of the past President’s security advisor, Erwin Krakouer, who had turned against the country. Now Krakouer’s successor was entering his life. Tom had been out of steady and challenging projects and was eager to get involved again. He chewed on his slice of pizza as he contemplated the upcoming meeting.
First, although I received this as a free copy to review, I would encourage others to read this if they are interested in post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or general thrillers. I began the book last night and had to finish it this morning before I could do anything else. I did not realize there was a prior novel, Love Byte, which I will definitely read. I believe that this book combines realism with just a touch of science fiction. Unlike many series, this book tidied things up neatly so that the reader was not left bereft waiting for the next book to be published sometime in the future. If you are looking for a nice, enjoyable book that is a bit thought provoking, I would encourage you to read this book. I often wonder if some reviews are posted by family friends and I can tell you: I can't even remember the author's name. I will be adding it to my book list of authors to read in the future. I can't promise you that it will put you on the edge of your seats, but I will say that it will leave you with something to think about. There is a pandemic flu in our future and this is just one example of how it could occur.