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The Last Firewall | [William Hertling]

The Last Firewall

In the year 2035, robots, artificial intelligences, and neural implants have become commonplace. The Institute for Ethics keeps the peace, using social reputation to ensure that robots and humans don't harm society or each other. But a powerful AI named Adam has found a way around the restrictions. Catherine Matthews, nineteen years old, has a unique gift: the ability to manipulate the net with her neural implant. Yanked out of her perfectly ordinary life, Catherine becomes the last firewall standing between Adam and his quest for world domination.
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Publisher's Summary

In the year 2035, robots, artificial intelligences, and neural implants have become commonplace. The Institute for Ethics keeps the peace, using social reputation to ensure that robots and humans don't harm society or each other. But a powerful AI named Adam has found a way around the restrictions.

Catherine Matthews, nineteen years old, has a unique gift: The ability to manipulate the net with her neural implant. Yanked out of her perfectly ordinary life, Catherine becomes the last firewall standing between Adam and his quest for world domination.

©2013 William Hertling (P)2014 William Hertling

What the Critics Say

“Awesome near-term science fiction.” (Brad Feld, Foundry Group managing director)

“An insightful and adrenaline-inducing tale of what humanity could become and the machines we could spawn.” (Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger)

“A fun read and tantalizing study of the future of technology: both inviting and alarming.” (Harper Reed, former CTO of Obama for America, Threadless)

“A fascinating and prescient take on what the world will look like once computers become smarter than people. Highly recommended.” (Mat Ellis, Founder & CEO Cloudability)

“A phenomenal ride through a post-scarcity world where humans are caught between rogue AIs. If you like having your mind blown, read this book! (Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (130 )
5 star
 (46)
4 star
 (53)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.9 (113 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (113 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 03-19-14
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 03-19-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The future belongs to AIs"

    Herling's The Last Firewall creates a semi-dystopian future where artificial intelligences (AIs) have basically all but superseded humans. In a somewhat implausible short span of time, neural implants (basically having your internet connectivity in your head) and AI technology have advanced such that AIs dominate the economic landscape and humans have been reduced to mostly welfare status. Against this backdrop is one AI with megalomaniacal ambitions, an emerging mob mentality anti-machine backlash, two individuals responsible for much of the state of affairs trying to sort things out, and a young girl with growing strange powers due to a unique instance of neonatal implants.

    The sci-fi elements are focused on computer artificial intelligence and direct neural connectivity to online computer systems through physical implants. Some rather inventive ways of perpetrating crimes are presented that foretell future issues. The future societal organizing structure does strain credulity as it's hard to envision how AIs performing "work" instead of humans can invigorate the economy when most of the population is reduced to subsistence living and drug abuse. The plot and pacing are well executed and the story is an enjoyable listen nevertheless.

    The narration is well done with a solid range of voices and excellent tone and tenor that matches the pace of the tale.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard FOXBORO, MA, United States 05-22-14
    Richard FOXBORO, MA, United States 05-22-14 Member Since 2012

    A good way to get through the work day.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great series of books"

    Read the whole series of books from this author and couldn't start listening to the next book quick enough. The flow of the story in each book and from book to book was amazing. Would like to see more from this author.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ceasar Spring, Texas, United States 03-12-14
    Ceasar Spring, Texas, United States 03-12-14 Member Since 2014

    Hello world!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very much enjoyed this book."
    Any additional comments?

    Wonderful read, great new characters and after finishing this book I understand how this fits in with the other two. You can read this separate from the other two or in series and its just as great of a read.

    Kat is a character that was effected by ELOPe, this was before "Yoni", year of no internet. By the way ELOPe was only mentioned twice in the book. She plays a critical roll in the evolution of everything.

    One thing puzzles me, what happened to ELOPe.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert East Perth, Australia 03-10-14
    Robert East Perth, Australia 03-10-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Races along at 100km an hour. Great listen."

    Great concept, great story. Enjoyed every minute of it. Narrator was great as the main character. Though since the story is told from several points of view, I would have preferred a separate male narrator for the male parts... this might just be me since I also dislike female parts being narrated by males. Keep up the good work. Can't wait for your next book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley 09-18-14
    Ashley 09-18-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Painful"
    What was most disappointing about William Hertling’s story?

    Being in the industry I found the misuse of proper computer terms grating. Now I know how doctors feel when they watch House.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jennifer O'Donnell’s performances?

    I found the voice acting of the male characters irritating, especially the imitation the stereotypical gangster.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paulie M. 06-03-14
    Paulie M. 06-03-14 Member Since 2011

    The Beck of Bessbrook

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story"
    What did you love best about The Last Firewall?

    Narration could have improved. Her attempts to do male voices were not convincing and made me squirm a little.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?


    yes


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Freeman SAN DIEGO, CA, United States 02-16-15
    Freeman SAN DIEGO, CA, United States 02-16-15 Member Since 2015
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    "great techie thriller, but where the hell is ..."

    ... I won't spoil it for you, but there was a part that is missing from this book that really I expected to be there. Technically this isn't in the same series as the authors previous books, but it is an obvious continuation of book two. so I was only disappointed with one I'll be at minor detail but I thought shouldn't have been overlooked.
    in my opinion, this book was better than the first two and is up there along with other fun and entertaining technothrillers

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Portland, OR 12-20-14
    Steve Portland, OR 12-20-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "DISCOVERED SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT REVIEWS!!!"

    I started reading this book in large part because the series is highly rated. After listening to the third book, I had to stop. The narrator is unbelievably distracting. I will get back to that.

    My biggest concern was when I studied the reviews. If you were to examine only the written reviews, the rating goes down up to a full star for both performance and overall story compared to the grossly collected reviews (both written reviews and reviews that aren't written, just stars assigned). TLF has less than 100 reviews. It would be very easy, and worthwhile to stack some of these reviews with biased opinions and even go as far as to create fake email accounts to boost the review score. I guess my point is, if a book has only a smattering of reviews, look at the written reviews for the most accurate evaluation of a book. It's too easy to finesse the results. From a data analysis standpoint, the written reviews shouldn't be around 20% lower when compared to the overall reviews. That's too big of a deviation (now you know why I like techno thrillers).

    That being said, I cannot believe the narration of this book. I don't blame O'Donnell as much as I blame Brick Shop Audio. I'm sure O'Donnell has talent but her talent didn't match up with the tone of this book. O'Donnell has a voice that would be more suited to melodrama and possibly something like a self help book. Her voice is a bit hoarse and choppy and her delivery is a bit whiny. It isn't best used in a techno thriller. Additionally, some of the selections she used for voices were downright comical. The two "gangsters" were given voices that you would hear in a Bugs Bunny Cartoon. I eventually gave up because I was unable to focus on the story. It was during a part with the two gangsters, ("Yeah see, we got a book here see and we're going to read it see").

    The story isn't bad and has promise but if I have to stop listening to a book, the overall rating has to be the lowest possible score. Too bad, I was looking forward to completing the trilogy. Maybe I will actually read the book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Schubring 11-27-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A good premise, lacking in a few ways."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    It would depend on the friend, but likely not. I found the technical fudging irritating (think Matrix level of fudging for how computers and networks work) but I loved The Matrix, so I can't say that's the reason why not.It was a combination of the writing and the voice acting. I feel like this write and this voice actor were not a good pair on this book. The writer wrote in characters I felt the actor was not able to portray even slightly believably, but it's not all on the voice actor. I found quite a few aspects of the story to be written in ways that made me roll my eyes. (I'm looking at you Slim and Tony, two gangsters from Stereotype Academy)


    What didn’t you like about Jennifer O'Donnell’s performance?

    I felt that the narration and the main characters were parts she did well, but her voice just didn't seem to be able to do male characters convincingly, and there were a quite few places where I felt lines were delivered flat or without emphasis they sorely needed to get their point across.I've listened to one other series (Honor Harrington) where I had my doubts about a female reader being able to do male voices, but Allyson Johnson showed me it was very possible.


    Was The Last Firewall worth the listening time?

    It was. I had to know how it ended, and I'm not bashful when it comes to bailing on a book that bores me. There was some good action, and interesting ideas. I never considered stopping the book and returning it. It kept me interested despite my criticisms.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander ORLANDO, FL, United States 04-10-14
    Alexander ORLANDO, FL, United States 04-10-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should have known better"

    A female impersonating a male's voice ends up sounding like a dorky teenager. That is the impression I got from several of the male characters. I tried to hang on for a couple of chapters (not letting it bother me too much). The story line seemed very soft and lacked any surprising revelations that keep you interested. After a while I wasn't sure if it was the bad narration or just a bad story. When I looked closely at the author I realized the problem. I had the same lackluster feeling with another book by the same author entitled "Avogadro's Corp". If I had not read other tech thriller authors (like Suarez and Daniel Wilson) I would have given up on the genre all together thinking the topic of IT to dry for fiction. It was so bad that I couldn't get halfway through it - just wish I could get the credit back.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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