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Father’s Day Reads: The Technologist

Hackers, programmers, engineers, and futurist dads can geek out with these five techno-savvy titles, whose insights range from techno-thriller to hacker history to genre-defying new fictional forms.

Exploding the Phone / Phil Lapsley
Before smartphones and iPads, before the Internet or the personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world’s largest machine: the telephone system. Based on original interviews and declassified documents, Exploding the Phone traces the birth of long-distance communication and the telephone, the rise of AT&T’s monopoly, the creation of the sophisticated machines that made it all work—and the discovery of Ma Bell’s Achilles’ heel.

How to Fix the Future / Andrew Keen
Andrew Keen was among the earliest to write about the dangers of the Internet to our culture and society. Now, Keen’s new book, How to Fix the Future, showcases global solutions for our digital predicament. Traveling the world in order to identify best (and worst) practices, Keen moves from Estonia, where innovators are forming a model for Internet digital governance, to Germany, whose automobile titans are acting carefully to navigate the future of self-driving cars, to Scandinavia, Korea, India, and, of course, Silicon Valley.

The Last Hack / Christopher Brookmyre
Sam Morpeth has had to grow up way too fast. Left to care for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison, her dreams of university evaporate. Then a stranger begins to blackmail her online. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane’s career success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they might be each other’s only hope. Writes Maureen Corrigan: “Think a techie version of ‘True Grit.’”

theMystery.doc / Matthew McIntosh
Funny, highly inventive, and deeply moving, theMystery.doc is a vast, shape-shifting literary novel that reads like a page-turner. The book follows a young writer as he is writing the follow-up to his first novel, searching for a form that will express the world as it has become. Pop-up ads, search results, web chats, snippets of conversation, lines of code, and film and television stills mix with alchemical manuscripts, classical works of literature—and the story of a man who wakes up one morning without any memory of who he is, his only clue a single blank document on his computer called theMystery.doc.

Zodiac / Neal Stephenson
Sangamon Taylor is a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil—all too intimately. As protagonist Taylor navigates this ecological thriller with hardboiled wit and the biggest outboard motor he can get his hands on, Stephenson “captures the nuance and the rhythm of the new world so perfectly that one almost thinks that it is already here” (The Washington Post).