John F.X. Sundman

Rosalita Associates / 359 pages / November 1999

ISBN: 192975213X

To misquote one of our contemporary poets: It’s hip to be paranoid. Maybe not to the point where you think Oliver Stone is really making a lot of sense, but just enough to feel uneasy when the same car is behind you after three¬†unnecessary turns. If you haven’t gotten that socially acceptable trace of suspicion yet, here is another worry that just might do the trick.

Nanotechnology. It may be the answer to so many of the world’s problems — cancer, birth defects, schizophrenia. According to Sundman though, it may also be an excellent means of controlling and recruiting. Think what powerful weapons such machines could be.

In Acts of the Apostles, that is the very use an extremely powerful and ruthless man has chosen to develop. He’s already succeeded with part of his plan; now it is up to a handful of engineers and scientists to discover a way to stop him and reverse the damage already done.

They know it’s going to be next to impossible. And they know one chilling fact before they even begin: this madman has no compunctions about killing to get what he wants. And the bodies are stacking up to prove it. A few more are hardly going to make a difference.

Unfortunately, one of the first victims is the only one who holds the key to disabling the lethal weapon. He’s still breathing, but that’s about it. The one person who could stand in the madman’s way has been in a coma for years, with no hope of recovery.

It looks like it’s going to be up to Nick Aubrey to find the answers. He’s a brilliant software engineer, but this task is a little bit out of his league. Even with the help of his friends, the odds are pretty good that he will be dead before he unravels the puzzle. Given the alternative, “dead” is starting to look more attractive all the time.

Indeed, in the face of the nightmare Sundman has created, quite a few of us would opt for death. The rest of us (or the sheep) would probably be eager to fall in line with the new order. If they even noticed the difference, that is.

Is Acts of the Apostles another 1984? Not really. It’s doubtful anything will approach the chill-factor of Orwell’s vision, now that we have lived with it for so long. Not to mention the number of even more terrifying experiments that have come to light.

The strength in Sundman’s writing is in the humanity of his characters. Nick, Dieter, and the others are no more and no less than real people. The relationships that develop are complex and believable. It is a case of imperfect heroes fighting a brilliant, but hardly impervious enemy.

Kind of like if it fell into our own laps? Some may think of themselves as super-humans or super-villains. In truth, it just comes down to us and them, trying to decide which of us is the bad guy, and how bad we want to stop them.