At the nexus of high finance and sophisticated computer programming, a terrifying future may be unfolding even now.
Dr. Alex Hoffmann’s name is carefully guarded from the general public, but within the secretive inner circles of the ultrarich, he is a legend. He has developed a revolutionary form of artificial intelligence that predicts movements in the financial markets with uncanny accuracy. His hedge fund, based in Geneva, makes billions. But one morning before dawn, a sinister intruder breaches the elaborate security of his lakeside mansion, and so begins a waking nightmare of paranoia and violence as Hoffmann attempts, with increasing desperation, to discover who is trying to destroy him.
Fiendishly smart and suspenseful, The Fear Index gives us a searing glimpse into an all-too-recognizable world of greed and panic. It is a novel that forces us to confront the question of what it means to be human—and it is Robert Harris’s most spellbinding and audacious novel to date.
©2012 Robert Harris (P)2012 Random House
"Unputdownable.... Harris has achieved the impossible, or at least the improbable: an explanation of the extravagantly esoteric nature of hedge funds, which normal people can understand.... I gorged myself, devouring his dystopian vision of free markets enslaved by a sinister artificial intelligence in one breakneck sitting.” (The Daily Telegraph)
“Reminiscent of everyone from Michael Crichton to Ian Fleming, Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock.” (Financial Times)
“A virtuoso specimen.... Inventively exploiting current anxieties about algorithmic trading to update the Frankenstein story, The Fear Index is both cutting edge and keenly conscious of its literary predecessors.... A tour de force.” (The Sunday Times, London)
Fascinating exploration of the blending of networked computers and artificial intelligence. Thought provoking and well worth the read if you like to consider future outcomes.
This book had a slow start and I was not sure if I would listen to the whole book. Christian's narration put into the story. I felt like I was in the mind if Alex. Good listen worth the credit!!!!
Very good story however it left me somewhat disappointed in the end. But then, how else could it have concluded? Otherwise fast paced and exciting! Pay attention or you'll miss something important.
After enjoying many previous works from Robert Harris, I was quite disappointed by this work. The ending was far too predictable.
Great concept. The story drags on a bit and doesn't end strong. It was good, but didn't live up the potential it had.
A little faster past and a stronger ending.
Currently training for a marathon and trying listening to books instead of music. Takes mind of the long runs!
Highly recommend audiobooks to anyone - especially for exercise such as running where it is good to have something to pass the time.
Probably not - after about 6/7 chapters in I figured I saw how it was going to turn out. But I hoped it was a distraction, the ending would hardly be that obvious?! Alas - it was...!
However the book has a good pace, interesting premise and naration is good - however some of the voices are not great.
HAL (of 2001 infamy) meets the 21st century financial markets. Takes over. Makes billions. Destroys lives. Kills people with elevators. Crashes planes and the stock market. All in 24 hours. Then the book ends.
I wish Audible would provide a better product. I continually have to go back and try to find my place to listen. Audible apparently disables the ability to burn a book to even one disk so I can listen to it. The iPod just doesn't do well on audiobooks (probably unless you buy them from Apple). It is impossible to get a book burned to CD so I can listen to it and it never plays right on the iPod.
This is worth listening to. I did need to follow it closer than I do some books, but I felt it ws worth the listen. It passed the time well!
I bought this audiobook after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. The world of finance is not something I am at all familiar with but I found the premise of the book interesting and it did not disappoint. Though I think the 'reveal' was obvious and there were a few lose ends that frustrated me (like the storyline with the Darwin book) I still loved this book. Found the setting, the characters, and the story line different and compelling. The performance was EXCELLENT! Overall just a fun and hard to 'put down' book. I was really sad when it ended!
That about sums up my reaction to my first (and probably last) Harris thriller. It had such potential to explore the ethics of “artificial intelligence” and the dichotomy of the main character in perusing it among other themes, but Harris didn’t come close to exploring any. Instead we get a huge info dump about hedge funds, algorithmic programs and the crossing of the scientific and financial streams. At one point he has someone say something like, I’m sure you’re all familiar with Moore’s Law and then proceeds to explain it! OMG is was torture listening to these passages, even with the delightful Christian Rodska narrating.
At least he didn’t give us a “HAL v. Dave” type scene between Alex and his creation. But neither did he really give the creation its own voice or much in the way of attention other than to explain its inner-workings. This makes the ending so ridiculous that I think I laughed. Quarry’s beatific eyeroll towards the spy camera over his head and his decision to let this money-making entity continue to do just that is ludicrous considering what came before. That is largely left up to the reader’s imagination though and it feels like a cop out and besides that, Harris pulls a lot of punches. At first I imagined that the application sent a tendril out to the airline’s own computers and caused the crash; that is truly horrific. Having it explained that the computer system only read a terrorist website and reacted to that was a let down, even considering (which I had to do on my own, Harris didn’t put this into the narrative at all) that the absence of Asimov’s Robot Laws kept it from warning and instead began acquiring short options.
Also left unexplored are the ramifications of Alex being set up by this computer system. We’re given the facts that he was ruthlessly set up and thoroughly destroyed by this entity, but not why. No one else in the story knows this, instead they choose to think Alex went nuts again. It’s left up to the reader to wonder if his first breakdown was a set up as well. It’s up to us to realize the horror of the computer’s ability to destroy others’ faith in him (and by extension, us). It’s up to us to fully understand how much we’re dependent on them and how easily a conscienceless intelligence can take over and render us helpless. We have to explore this alone. The entity doesn’t even speak, which granted, could have led straight to hokeyville, but it could have also given us a more tangible enemy to fear. As it was, a reader could have been also convinced that Alex was indeed crazy. Alex didn’t even have one ally he could talk to and commiserate with over the machine’s betrayal and single-minded purpose in “life”. What a lazy storyteller. He basically left it up to us to tell it and so I’d really like a royalty check out of this, Mr. Harris. Heh.
Report Inappropriate Content