William Hertling and the Last Firewall

writing business coach Meet William Hertling. Don’t let the Portland soul patch fool you, he’s actually a really cool and smart guy I met last year at the Willamette Writers Conference. He’s the author of a series of cyberpunk novels (remember cyberpunk?) that center around the evolution of AI and what that does to human society.

Interesting stuff. I tore through the first two books, Avogadro Corp and AI Apocalypse in a day each even though I should have been doing other things.

They were solid books that explored interesting ideas with nice, tight pacing, but they left me wanting more in both the good and the bad sense. Good because I wanted to read more about the world, people and ideas William was exploring. Bad because I felt both books needed to be about 20% bigger to explore the ideas more completely, realize the characters more compellingly and make the problems and obstacles a bit more robust.

William had already written The Last Firewall by the time I told him this, but it’s like he was reading my mind. Definitely the work of a maturing author, Firewall weaves three storylines into a single, interlinked narrative that comes together in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. Over on his blog, he quotes my alter ego Jake F. Simons as saying it’s like a cross between Tom Clancy and William Gibson. He (I) meant that.

This is the work of a smart, engaged writer nearing the top of his game. He should be encouraged. If you love cyberpunk or technothrillers, start with Avogadro Corp and keep on reading. If you can take or leave those, but like Tom Clancy or Walter Jon Wiliams, start with Firewall and backfill if it blows you away. Although the events are sequential, you don’t need to have read the first books to understand and enjoy the third. 

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