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Zero Day Code

Narrated by: Rupert Degas
Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
5 out of 5 stars (61 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Every modern city has one week’s worth of food to feed itself. Then it will collapse. 

Cut off the resources to New York, Sydney, or even a mid-size metropolis, and millions will soon starve. In Zero Day Code we see those immense and open, hyper-complex, networked supercities of the new millennium die. And in the last moments we see their vengeance take form as all the best and worst traits of humanity bubble to the surface. 

Zero Day Code is set in a realistic near future with dwindling global food supplies under increasing pressure from worsening droughts, floods and extreme weather events. Written by prolific Australian writer John Birmingham, the thriller follows a handful of survivors from the first day of society’s descent into violent, uncertain futures. 

James, a consultant to the US National Security Council, is the first to suspect that the worldwide emergence of a crippling computer virus is actually a cover for something else - a devastating cyber-attack by China on the food distribution system of the United States. The attack is a bid for the Middle Kingdom to distract America as it seizes the food bowl of South East Asia and feeds its starving population. But Beijing has miscalculated.

Follow the missions of an embittered activist chasing salvation, a single mum rescuing her child from a frantic San Francisco and an army veteran who has long retreated from society, as the world they knew crumbles around them.  

Please note: this audiobook contains mature content and listener discretion is advised.

©2019 Audible Australia Pty Ltd. (P)2019 Audible Australia Pty Ltd.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Magnificent double-threat.

Full disclosure: I read the first draft chapter by chapter on JB's Patreon page. You should consider doing the same, it's absolutely worth every cent.

I grabbed this book on audible as soon as it came out. I've found audiobooks to be a mixed bag in the past, some have been fantastic, others not so. Much of this has to do with the voice talent, and Rupert Degas is wonderful. He commits to the material and performs it more than reads it - and his pronunciation is excellent, something that can take you out of the story if they get it wrong. The only problem is that Rupert now has to come over to my place and read every JB book to me from now on.

If you're a Birmo fan, then this is all the best things you love about Axis of Time, The Disappearance and Dave and the Monsters rolled into one. Great characters, tight, well-researched plot, a sprawling picture of the end of the world, told in vignettes all over the world, and in the main story through the eyes of eight or so expertly-drawn POV characters.

The story itself is a creeping horror, a slow-dawning and inevitable ending to everything we know - and it's relevant to today, right now. There are places in the world already experiencing the beginnings of this, and the despairing adult in me knows it's too late to turn away from the course we've set.

As always, the dialogue is brilliant. Even knowing what was coming I still laughed out loud at parts even funnier in the telling than the reading. Given the plot it's weird to laugh at parts, but man they're funny. And Damian "Damo" Moloney has to be the funniest character I've ever read, boisterously moreso when played by Rupert Degas.

I can't think of a better advertisement for Audible itself than this excellent book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bart
  • WICHITA, KANSAS, United States
  • 08-02-19

Half way through before the action begins

Character development was long and slow and a bit corny. Everyone was more of a caricature than a character.

That being said the narrator did great with voice inflection. The only thing odd was that he called Maryland...Mary-Land. Always jerked me out of the story but I could fall back in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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If Bernie Sanders’ wrote about the apocalypse...

Global warming, overpopulation and food shortages with out of control ICE agents as the bad guys attacking innocent lesbians. Not my cup of tea. He is a talented writer but his politics tend to seep into his stories.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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can't wait for the next installment

I've always enjoyed birmingham's books. the sounds like it's going to be a fine series

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Great apocalypse entertainment!

JB does it again with smart, witty and tightly written end-of-the world storytelling. Rupert Degas' performance is wonderful as well.

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Awesome start to a series by John Birmingham!

The reading by Rupert Degas was also excellent. I can't wait for the next book!!!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good start.

Cool characters. I look forward to a continuation of story in the next book. At least I hope there is another book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

enjoyed, needs to continue ( what else is new).

lots of char development, a bit slow at times for that reason
Still well worth a listen but really needs to continue. Worth the credit to me at least.

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No equal in apocalyptic tales.

Birmingham has masterfully authored a riveting, paranoia-inducing narrative that follows current events to a sobering, logical conclusion. The events that unfold may be only as far away as the next news broadcast. I absolutely loved the breadth of characters and the attention to detail that brought each to life. An absolutely brilliant story.

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Rollicking good fun!

Birmo can always be relied upon for an interesting, laugh out loud, action packed read. Rupert Degas has been able to elevate the whole shebang into something you won’t want to take out of your ears. The man has a million voices and you’ll forget it’s one person telling the story. Well worth a listen!

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  • Andy Williams
  • 08-07-19

You B*******ards One of the most gripping stories

How can i put this. I can't remember the last time i listened to a story all day for 2 days on the trot. Absolutely stunning.

The narration is off the charts, totally believable men and women all different and separate.

BE WARNED this is only half the story, it stops dead, "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this performance" Wha...? Oh come on, really, yep end of story.

You will not regret this purchase.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark Regan
  • 07-09-19

I am not even 1/4 through and...

I CANT GET ENOUGH.

the performance is heavyweight, as good as the story. It is like the story, writing and performance was specifically for me.

Smart, modern and entertaining AF!

Where has the performer and author been all me life, why am I only discovering them now? Nevermind, I'll seek answers once I'm done with this and everything these chaps have ever done.

Edit: I finished it, couldn't put this book down, everything I said I sand by and I really hope we get more.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • J. James
  • 07-20-19

Half of a great book...

I really enjoyed this. However I felt cheated at the end, because this book came to an abrupt end just when everything is just kicking off. It’s not a cliffhanger, it really is more like getting half way a through book to the point that you’ve been introduced to the world and the characters in it, then discovering the rest of the pages are blank.

The cynic in me might think that this is just in order to make you pay for the next book... let’s just hope it gets published otherwise I’ll never know what happened next!

Good performance from the narrator but marked down for stupid telephone voice sound effects. I really hate it when audiobook producers feel the need to chip in with either music or silly effects. That sort of thing always brings me back to reality.

All of that said I’ll be buying the next one as the story is engaging (and after all I need to know what actually happens...)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • James C.
  • 08-05-19

Alt-right Marty Stu fantasy

One of the main characters is a political podcaster who is introduced as being famous on Reddit. He is described as a big, musclebound tough guy who cares about justice and truth. He lives in a rundown house, working a dead-end day job, moonlighting as a badass alt-right justice warrior via his podcast. This is a wank-fantasy for angry white men who think they're one Reddit post away from being this guy.

By Chapter 6 we've had:

- Unironic use of the word "cuck."

- A real-life person described as a "fag."

- A meathead antagonist named "Chad."

- The podcaster is a knockoff Milo Yiannopoulos who aspires to become bigger than Alex Jones. He quotes the Washington Post describing his show as "one of the newer, smarter, alt-right media plays."

- "Too weak in the bladder to take on the left."

- "Leftist abuse."

- On a mission against sexual abusers described as liberals in Hollywood.

- He gets falsely accused of sexual harrassment by female colleagues. He tells his boss they did it to advance their careers.

- He yells at his boss and threatens him during a disciplinary meeting, acting out the fantasy that runs through many cowards' heads when they are getting told off by their boss.

- One of the other main characters is an investigative journalist who personally uncovered the Chinese melamine baby milk scandal.

- The only female character introduced so far is described as shockingly blonde with Finnish ancestry, looking like "a model waiting on a photographer." Standard white male supremacist fare.

So if that's your thing, go ahead and give it a listen. If you're not into having alt-right wank crammed down your ears, give it a hard pass.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-19

Excellent

One of the best I’ve listened too on audible. Story and narration are first class

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Mitchell
  • 08-17-19

Exciting book

Really enjoyed the multiple story lines. Hopefully there's a sequel as I'd like to know what happened to the characters - they were interesting and felt I knew them!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mikey D.
  • 08-14-19

Amazing story that just kinda stops

Some really great characters, realistic plot and great atmosphere which is ruined when the author just kinda stops writing when it starts getting really good. I felt a bit cheated to be honest.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J Hitch
  • 08-02-19

Chillingly Realistic

Great book. Took me an hour or so to get into it as it jumps to different characters a lot. But the characters are great and the narration is amazing (apart from the couple of times it uses phone sound effects). I was a little disappointed with the end. I really hope there’s a follow-up.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • rustyb
  • 08-01-19

Very good, deserves a follow up

very good, maybe a little slow, improved throughput the story. Certainly deserves a follow up.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Suetpud
  • 07-24-19

A chilling tale, very much of our times.

Different to the other John Birmingham's I've read but equally riveting. A little too much modern-speak at the start but I guess that was to place it firmly in the now. I liked the author's way of conveying a microcosm of what was unfolding through the eyes of a few, very different, characters and I didn't want that to stop when it did. No prizes for guessing the madman who wreaks revenge at the end. A little too close to our darkest fears perhaps!

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  • Elana Mitchell
  • 07-04-19

Nobody can destroy the world like John Birmingham

John Birmingham keeps finding new and interesting ways to destroy the world, and lemme tell you, he’s really refining his technique. In Zero Day Code the world ends with a shudder, and no one realises... until it’s too late.

JB gives us an array of cleverly drawn but all too human heroes and villains in this great opening story to a longer saga of the world ending, but humanity having to survive the fall. Don’t hesitate, download this now!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christos
  • 07-01-19

Birmingham does it again

Another one knocked out of the park. I don't know what John Birmingham has against humanity, but he revels in destroying the world. And with this book, his latest effort, he delivers global mayhem and societal collapse through the eyes of the people caught up in the middle of it, and he does it with a real emotional punch. He's created characters that are believable and sympathetic - one of Birmingham's strengths.

With Zero Day Code Birmingham presents an idea that's both outrageous and entirely plausible. Frightening actually. He pulls at the loose threads of the fabric of our civilisation and, with a gentle tug, reveals how fragile it really is.

And Rupert Degas does an amazing job as the narrator - his Aussie accent is brilliant, cuss words and all. He brings this story to life. So much so I sat still for the whole 12 hours while I listened. Loved it.

Looking forward to the next in the series.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 07-15-19

Still thinking about it two days later

Without doubt some of the best work from JB to date. The characters are (as usual) colourful without being caricatures. The technical aspects are (again, as usual) well researched and so well written that you dont even notice them. No CSI style exposition here, folks.

Dialogue feels natural and is genuinely engaging, even during the "slow" set pieces. The pacing is absolutely superb, with a ratcheting tension that begins immediately and refuses to let up for the whole journey.

The most impressive thing about ZDC, however, is the effortless way in which JB weaves his trademark wit into what is a genuinely chilling story.

All up, an absolute banger of a read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nick
  • 08-03-19

Some great classic Birmo moments, but feels incomplete

Birmo has written some great stuff over the years. He’s got a real talent for weaving disparate and developed characters through action packed moments in intense scenes, while at the same time really getting into some juicy geo-political commentary.
This more of that, but unfortunately it all comes to sudden and jarring halt.
I get that everything needs to be episodic for some reason these days, because money right? But this enjoyable box set feels like it’s missing the last two discs

The narration is generally good and has really clarity in the action bits but really falls down on the female characters, perhapslay off the higher pitches a little?
It was a great listen, but I really wish the ending wasn’t as jarring and unsatisfying as it is. Maybe hold off til the inevitable sequel is released?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tony N
  • 07-07-19

Feels all too plausible...

Another fantastic bit of world building (and destroying) from JB. He does his usual great job of introducing a compelling group of characters to provide different viewpoints on the unfolding drama, as well as to make the events intimate and personal. This makes the cascading failures feel all too real, as you can easily put yourself in the characters' place.

The narration quickly becomes very immersive, making you feel part of the world that JB has created. Very easy to listen to, and nice differentiation between the different voices of each character.

Really looking forward to seeing how this plays out over future books. Feels like an epic in the making.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Andrew Nesbitt
  • Andrew Nesbitt
  • 07-05-19

An apocalypse just around the corner

I've been a John Birmingham fan for a long time. He's always thoroughly entertaining and with Zero Day Code he's raised the bar again. As the reviews roll in for this one, I'm guessing the word we'll see repeated a lot will be 'plausible'. The ideas and overall plot put forward just feels very real and like something that could happen today, right now.

Nothing that Birmingham lays out in this tale of the world in crisis feels in any way like it couldn't take place exactly as he describes it. There are no zombies, aliens or asteroids throwing the world into chaos, just the very real threat of what could happen when people get desperate and use our own technology against us.

Global threats aside, I also can't recall any novel I've ever read, or movie for that matter, that is so well hooked in to the way we communicate and consume information in the digital age. I'm not just talking Facebook and Twitter here, every mention of a social media platform or cloud based app or tool, no matter how obscure, has had me thinking John must have had big brother style cameras and snooping software watching my house and devices for the past few years.

What holds this story together though is the characters. John has always been great at giving you characters that you feel for and believe in, and with Zero Day Code he's raised the bar there as well. I can't help feeling these guys and girls will be sticking with me for a long time to come, like all great novel characters should. They all feel like real people I know, the good and the bad.

That predominantly comes down to Birmingham's storytelling skills, but Rupert Degas also does a fantastic job at not only narrating this story, but also giving every character, large or small, their own unique voice. Literally. That's quite as feat.

I can't wait for the next book in this series. I want to know what happens next for each and every one of these people and the wider world around them.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-09-19

Tense and Believable

Great characters who, with one exception, you're generally rooting for.


It's horrifying in how you could see this really happening.


Well worth a read

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • rup31
  • 07-09-19

This is a good book

Read this book. It is a good book.
I endorse this book to any and all

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hawk
  • 07-08-19

Riveting - could not put it down

What a great modern political thriller reminescent of the original Tom Clancy novels - including a tongue in cheek acknowledgement as such. Very hard to put down and featuring great narration.

I will have to read more of John Birmingham now - his writing has changed a lot since 'falafel'....

Thank you so very much for this novel, it is like a breath of fresh air. This was a seriously good read and I really want more. Oh please can we have some more.

I shall now start John Birmingham's Axis of Time series.....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ManInDotBlack
  • 07-05-19

John Birmingham leaves us wanting more

Rupert Degas's performance was brilliant; I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative and character acting throughout, with many a wince & not a few laughs at situations portrayed almost flawlessly in a very listenable voice.

And I can't forget John Birmingham's writing, obviously; a very plausible premise presented in a well fleshed out tale which is only just beginning. Romance, weapons, sex, drama, violence & of course, explosions, are all just parts of the palette John employs to paint the narrative. And A Very Good Dog.

Do yourself a favour, grab John Birmingham's Audible Original Audiobook 'Zero Day Code', today, before the world comes to an end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful