They ought to know better. The novelist of the two men who wrote 2034: A Novel of the Next World War has Masters degrees in literature and international affairs; he was a Marine officer* in places where they shoot at you for real and did semi-spooky stuff attached to the CIA. The retired career officer spent 37 years in the Navy, much of it in genuine seagoing commands and/or at various hot spots and has a chest full of ribbons that includes things that matter.
I'm sure Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis know more about international politics and the military use of force than I ever will. Based on the excerpt from 2034... published in Wired, they write well, with strong and believable characters.
One problem is they don't appear to know much about radio; they don't know much about how radio-type jobs are organized in the Navy, nor about the care and feeding of the hardware, especially the older types. They don't know much about the U. S. power grid, or the havoc that "bumping" the whole thing for a minute would create. They're unaware of present trends in international short-wave broadcasting (there's less and less of it, and the trend is continuing). In the excerpt, the book treats cyberwar measures as if they were magic, with implausible effects and no justification for them.
It ruins the story for me. Which is a pity; it's an entertaining cautionary tale on the order of the nuclear war and after-the-Bomb novels of the 1950s through 80s. But radio operation, maintenance and crypto are three different jobs, for outstandingly good reasons that include compatibility of skill sets and security, and if you're going to condense them to a couple of pulp-character guys (and throw in avionics for good measure), be prepared to prop it up.† (Also, protip: soldering irons do not "smoke" unless you're melting solder with them.)
My last paragraph points to another problem: 2034's military officers and White House staffers are fully-rounded; their various opposite numbers are about as good. In the portions of the book Wired has published, Ackerman and Stavridis don't have much of an eye or ear for the "little people," and while that's about what we expect of an officer in wartime, it's not at all what we want from writers of fiction.
I'll probably take another look after it comes out in paperback or the hardcovers show up used; I want to see if they ever try to explain the cybermagic (even logical-sounding handwavium would do). They do use the flashpoints I would expect. Nevertheless, I'm not expecting Hector Bywater-level prediction from this book.
Maybe next time. And whoever writes the next one? The R-390A is your friend, and if crypto's not behind a locked door, it'd better be a black, black box.
* Wikipedia and his own website are silent on the matter of rank. Or as the Brits say, "Too tall for Dick and too short for Richard."
† If you detect some personal interest in that, you're right: I am one of the "supporting characters" in my job, not the big brass or someone publicly visible.
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