- Dark Web Rising
Dark Web Rising is a fast-paced action-adventure appropriate for all audiences from teen to adult. Centered on Stewart Breston, the story weaves its way through the dark web with hackers and secret agencies, not at all unlike the world we live in today.
From the Author
What’s this book about? It’s a scifi action-adventure set in the near future, centered on a group of young adults who long for a better life. They desire sweeping societal changes but like the rest of us, it’s just talk. Well, it is until Stewart runs smack-dab into the hornet’s nest when he hacks a secret government agency sending him, and his friends, on a mad scramble to avoid the agents chasing them.
Like consequences do, these sequences of events leads them into the midst of a multi-decade conspiracy with its own power-broker (Daddy Warbucks) who, unbeknownst to them, has been setting the stage for the ultimate gambit – stealing the first planetary colonization Starship (Genesis II).
This first book in the series is intended to be fun, fast, and engaging without drilling deeply into speculative science fiction. However, it is setting the stage to do just that in Genesis II.
The book and the series are an expression of my dissatisfaction with many things I see every day of my life. There is a better way. We can rise above our base instincts. The future is as bright as we want it to be…
All we have to do is stand up and make it that way.
Chapter 1 – A Crack in the Egg
Why did he make the Egg? The answer is irrelevant, that he made it is enough. Now we just need to pull him into the net.
Conrad Heit, message logs recovered during post-launch Investigation
Stewart was done with the project he’d been working on. He was tired and irritated from the work and the recent hack. There was something else too, nagging at him, elusive and taunting for almost a week now. The realization the JM Net session would start in about fifteen minutes did nothing but add to his irritability. This was not like him. Something else was bothering him, the unease from it stirring everything else into a foul stew, polluting his mind and emotions. The heat of ineffectual anger began creeping up his neck.
What was it?
Then it clicked. JM Net, the day the Egg was hacked. The Egg’s transmissions were garbled and unintelligible for some reason just before the hack on the Egg started. If he hadn’t seen it himself, Stewart would have claimed it couldn’t happen. However, after having the uncrackable Egg pop open like a ripe tomato under the first poorly constructing hacker attack, Stewart wasn’t taking anything for granted. Sure, he stopped the hacker dead in his tracks without any trouble but the Egg shouldn’t have been hackable, just like the transmissions shouldn’t have been garbled.
Esheet in hand, Stewart started delving into the recordings of the strange transmission, watching it fall apart under the fine knife of his coding expertise. The dissection was completed within minutes.
It was encrypted transmissions, but no encryption he had ever used. In five more minutes, the encrypted messages yielded their fruit, the encryption layer shredded and gone. Stewart pushed play.
“So just what would be necessary to start moving things towards John Marshal’s point of view?”
“It would probably require the formation of a new party. Like the Ross Perot Reform Party in the nineties.”
“No, a new party would force the movement to operate within current laws and structure, a situation compromising many of the tenets and principles of the Elastic Society Theory. It would be completely ineffective. Marshal makes it plain; the amount of change necessary requires the old system to be replaced sum total.”
“That leaves only one option then, revolution. To have a real chance at practicing the Elastic Society Theory, the current laws and structure must be replaced, which requires the elimination of the current government. Ying Lee said Daddy Warbucks has done a comprehensive study on the matter and he says it’s got to start with a clean slate to be successful. The real question is, how do we wipe the slate clean? That’s the toughie.”
“Ying Lee said…? Oh, Stewart’s joining. End of discussion.”
Stewart was stunned. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. What the hell was going on? JM Net was a loose-knit group of people sharing a fascination with John Marshal’s Elastic Society Theory. Stewart made the Egg to give them a safe place to discuss Marshal’s work, maybe find some innovative ways to promote the philosophy – and to have fun. They had never talked about trying to do anything tangible or to instigate change on this scale. Egad! They were talking about overthrowing the government! Why had he not heard anything about this before? Why had they kept secrets from him? Even if there was no real intention of doing anything, why was he left out of these conversations? And who was Daddy Warbucks? It obviously wasn’t the character from the Annie movie, but who could it be?
Stewart was angry and confused – and well – he was just plain pissed off! It was almost time for the JM Net session and the topic today was going to be much different from what the others were expecting.
Logging on to the Egg early, Stewart mentally ran through what he was going to say, how best to address the issue and get the answers he deserved. It took a lot to get under Stewart’s skin, except when it came to his friends, the majority being in JM Net. It hurt being left out, to know they were keeping secrets from him. Did they doubt his trustworthiness? Maybe he was a stick in the mud they didn’t want to deal with, a real goody-two-shoes or Debbie Downer? Whatever it was he would soon find out.
The session was about to start, just another minute and change. Stewart was ready and willing to do want needed to be done, to ferret his way to the bottom of what was going on and to find out why his friends were purposefully keeping things from him.
Then the alarm went off.
The story’s near-future setting and familiar-sounding political special interests is part of a draw that deftly injects a strange sense of familiarity into a sci-fi story about a future world and a hacker’s dilemma.
The result is a vivid read packed with computer science, human special interests, intrigue, a winding cat-and-mouse game, and the scenario of a dark underworld to the Internet which reaches out to immerse not only its characters, but its readers.
Dark Web Rising is a great young adult novel which shows a character using intelligence and wit to accomplish his goals rather than brute force. This skill is something which seems to be rare within young adult novels. This is a book to appeal to anyone who has an interest in the science fiction genre of any age, not just those within the young adult parameters. This is a highly polished, well-written and intriguing book, one certainly to be enjoyed as a summer vacation companion read or at anytime of the year.
This is an action-packed book that does not skimp on adventure. Even in the heat of pursuit, the protagonist earns an emotional investment, coming across as a relatable young individual thrust into extreme circumstances and searching for a feasible way out. Breston feels real, whether he is brooding, swooning, programming, or acting on “true belief, not conditioned response.”
Prose flows crisply and cleanly. Scenes, especially when involving the heightened tension of surveillance and tracking, crackle with excitement, as if straight out of a television show. Dark Web Rising achieves the rare feat of writing hacking scenes in a compelling, captivating way that feels realistic and high-stakes without getting bogged down too much in the technical aspects.
Eugene T. Schurter mixes a wealth of genres in Dark Web Rising, a thriller rooted in espionage, technology and interplanetary travel.
Schurter’s writing bears the simultaneous imprint of Tom Clancy and William Gibson in this story of a hacker who stumbles upon a dangerous conspiracy and, as a result, must flee across the United States. It’s an ambitious combination of voices and narrative ingredients, one that borrows from spy stories and cyberpunk fiction for its foray into young adult fiction.
His dystopian vision of the overreaches of government echo deeply in the era of Edward Snowden, and Orwellian warnings undergird its action/adventure elements. Those with an interest in tech-based thrillers, traditional espionage stories and science fiction will find plenty of promising material here.
The plot is fast paced and there is a lot of action, intrigue, and thrills as the story progresses. Things change when Stewart hacks into the CID and from there the plot takes readers into a world of espionage, hacking, and science fiction that will keep them glued to the pages. The story has a sense of urgency and characters are busy with the hacks and trying to avoid agents chasing them. All the characters are well sketched and come across as real and tangible. It is a definitely a book for all those who love computers and coding.