Tetraktys is not the world's first cryptographic thriller

Posted on by Ben Rothke

In my review of Ari Juels excellent novel Tetraktys on Slashdot, I made the mistake of saying it might be the world's first cryptographic thriller.  I got plenty of heat for ignoring Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson which in truth is the world's first cryptographic thriller. 

This book, tells the story of Ambrose Jerusalem, a gifted computer security expert, still haunted by his father's death, a few months shy of his doctorate, who has a beautiful and loving girlfriend, and a bright future ahead of him. This is until the government gets involved and Jerusalem's plans are put on hold when the NSA asks him to join them to track down a strange and disturbing series of computer breaches. 

Imagine for a moment what his novels would read like if Dan Brown got his facts correct. The challenge Brown and similar authors face is to write a novel that is both compelling and faithful to the facts. In Tetraktys, author Ari Juels is able to weave an interesting and readable story, and stay faithful to the facts. While Brown seemingly lacks the scientific and academic background needed to write such fiction, Juels has a Ph.D. in computer science from Berkeley and is currently the Chief Scientist and director at RSA Laboratories, the research division of RSA Security. 

For those interested in a cryptographic thriller, Tetraktys is an enjoyable read. The book interlaces Greek philosophy, mathematics, and modern crime into a cogent theme that is a compelling read. And if the exploits of Ambrose Jerusalem continue, we may have found the successor to Umberto Eco.

Ben Rothke

Senior Information Security Manager, Tapad

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