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The Labyrinth Key [Paperback]

Howard V. Hendrix

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Book Description

Mar 2004
In a secret war waged in worlds both virtual and real, the fates of nations depend on the definitive weapon. And that weapon is knowledge—knowledge to die for. . . .

The race is heating up between the U.S. and China to develop a quantum computer with infinite capabilities to crack any enemy’s codes, yet keep secure its own secrets. The government that achieves this goal will win a crucial prize. No other computer system will be safe from the reach of this master machine.

Dr. Jaron Kwok was working for the U.S. government to build such a computer. But in a posh hotel in Hong Kong, a Chinese policewoman sifts through the bizarre, ashlike remains of what’s left of the doctor. With the clock ticking, alliances will be forged—and there are those who will stop at nothing to discover what the doctor knew. As the search for answers intensifies, it becomes chillingly clear that the quantum computer both sides so desperately want will be more powerful, more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

For in the twenty-first century, machines become gods, gods become machines, and the once-impossible now lies within reach. The key to unlimited knowledge will create the ultimate weapon of mass destruction—or humanity’s last chance to save itself. . . .

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THE ANNUAL PILOT'S FESTIVAL WAS well underway at Don Sturm's and Karuna Drang's place, though their "place" was a DIVE-a deep-immersion virtual environment-and their DIVE wasn't a place at all. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful tale of suspense, science, and philosophy. 6 April 2004
By doctordruidphd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the classical dichotomies of philosophy is whether the universe is ultimately matter -- materialism, or formless spirit-like energy -- immaterialism. To this discussion, modern science has added a third possibility: that the universe might ultimately be information. If this third possibility is true, then could the manipulation of information, by computers or otherwise, alter the structure of reality itself? What might the result of that manipulation be: the evolution of the human species into something that transcends the limits of physical existence, or the creation of the ultimate horror that could destroy this universe, and perhaps all other possible realities along with it?
In "The Labyrinth Key", Dr. Hendrix traces the idea of an informational universe back to the medieval Cabalists who, in their quest to understand God through the manipulation of numbers, may have stumbled upon the key that would allow man to actually become God. In their battle for informational superiority the U.S. and Chinese governments and their covert secret organizations, locked in a rapidly intensifying political and military confrontation, race to exploit these ideas in their attempt to create the ultimate informational weapon -- a quantum supercomputer, that could crack and control any information system, and therefore take total control of the planet. In this masterfully crafted tale that combines suspenseful whodunit mystery with medieval philosophy, speculative science, and the intrigue of international conspiracy, the disappearance and presumed death of a top scientist leads investigators through a tangled web of technology, politics and philosophy to what might become the fulfillment of the dream of the ancient Cabalists, or perhaps their worst fears come true.
Unlike many of Hendrix's previous works, "Labyrinth" is set in a world of technology that seems close enough to happen today. Indeed, many of today's top theorists argue that the future of humanity lies in the fusion of human biology with informational technology, and some -- but by no means all -- even argue that such a fusion is not only possible, but even an absolutely necessary step for the survival of humanity. Modern philosophy of mind has become obsessed with the idea that the brain is some kind of computer, and it is only a matter of technological evolution before the brain can actually become a computer. However, others would say that human survival depends upon maintaining a barrier between what is essentially human and what is essentially machine; that the whole point of evolution (or creation, either way) was to insure that the human mind did not become an oversized calculator. This is the underlying conflict played out in "Labyrinth," with each point of view represented by its own secret society and covert government operations, each trying to outmaneuver the other for control of the world's information systems, and ultimately for the control of humanity itself. But what if the ancient Cabalists were right? What if such a biotech fusion were to grant access to the very fabric of reality itself? You will have to read "Labyrinth" and decide for yourself whether humanity's obsession with technology -- to the point of wanting to become that technology -- leads upward to a Heaven of unimaginable bliss, or straight down the gravity well of psychotic delusion to the Other Place.
Filled challenging ideas and a fast-moving plot with a number of surprising turns, "Labyrinth Key" is a multi-dimensional thriller that should please not only fans of science fiction, but those interested in the philosophical aspects of technology, and those who just like a good suspense story. It even includes a question and answer section at the end, in which the author explains many of the ideas developed in the story. If you want a fascinating read that will leave it up to you whether the "good guys" of the "bad guys" won in the end, you won't want to miss out on this one.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy science, skip this one! 9 Dec 2006
By Chad Z. Hower - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anyone with even a reasonable science or computer background will flinch quickly upon reading this. Hard to finish and Im sorry I did.

Half the book just made up "metaphysics" to fill gaps, and even a lot of that didnt hold logic against itself either.

Its as if a fantasy writer tried to write scifi, and to fill the gaps (which are huge in this book) they just made stuff up without bothering to see if it was believable.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars William Gibson would be proud 9 May 2006
By Clark Kent - Published on Amazon.com
Readers of William Gibson would likely enjoy this novel. The feel of this novel was very simliar.

I considered that a good editor might have been able to save this book. There were about 30 pages of very clear and well written text with good plot.

However, another 378 pages seemed to be added as filler. The filler was philosophy and halicinations/visions. Most of it seemed completely pointless and made absolutely no sense. If you are looking for action like Michael Crickton, don't purchase this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very involving SF Mystery 30 Oct 2008
By Wellsoul2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of Hendrix's best books.
Sometimes I get annoyed by the spiritual psychobabel built into his model of "higher consciousness", but Hendrix is a good enough writer to
make even a sceptic give some thought to even his wilder ideas.
Hendrix has a cast of characters that weave in and out of his books and
keep them related, some of them alternative world takes on bits of the
same story. It makes the book more interesting if you read his previous
1.0 out of 5 stars Da Vinci Code + Foucault's Pendulum + Tom Clancy = confusing mess 15 May 2007
By WiltDurkey - Published on Amazon.com
Fans of conspiracy theories, deep 'philosophical' thinking about the nature of the universe, mysticism - you may be in for a treat. IF you can disregard a confusing rambling plot with uninteresting personae throughout.

Anybody else will likely be thoroughly annoyed by this book. The author thinks that mixing up kabalistic hocus pocus + crypto + quantum computing gives a convincing argument for godhood/doomsday superweapon /ubercomputer. Enough to base a book on, anyway. It doesn't work out and it doesn't help that the characters are 0-dimensional at best, beneath cliche. The last 50 or so pages were especially rambling, with long paragraphs of pseudo-mystical nonsense.

The author kept his options open by drafting in too many concepts, rather than concentrating his plot on a few chosen subjects. You have evolution theory, crypto, quantum, nanotech, DNA, number theory, mystical writers from the Renaissance, memory palaces and virtual reality. It's all there, kinda. Well, minus the science. Pretty badly written for an English lit teacher too. Throw in a number of sketchily outlined conspiring factions and undifferentiated good/bad guys that all seem to know all about medieval mystics and you have a mess. Like Foucault's Pendulum, you get a strong sense that the writer wants you to sense how cultured he is. Oh, and at least Clancy knows how to build up his books to a big suspense at the end. This doesn't, but tries miserably anyway.

One justification given for drafting in the medieval crypto-mystics as relevant to modern cyberwarfare is that "a mathematician in the 1600's would have learned a lot from reading some of the lost writings of early Greek scholars". Sorry, that doesn't cut it - Europe was just coming out of centuries of dark ages, had lost a lot of the earlier Greek knowledge and was just starting to find its scientific legs again. Not at all the relationship we now have with Renaissance science. But typical of the book's pseudo-scientific babble.
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