Transmission

Oh my love, o my darling
I’ve crossed the line of no control
I hear your gunfire in my valley
You’ve tripped my wire
You have my soul
I’ve crossed the line
The line of no control

Transmission by Hari Kunzru follows Arjun Mehta, a computer programmer from India dreaming of the great lifestyle America has to offer. He is offered a job by a silicon valley based anti-virus company as an anti-virus specialist, where he soon realizes the glamorous life of America is not what he expected it to be. On top of that, he realizes he is on the soon to be fired list, which pushes him to create a virus in hopes to come up with the solution, and thus making him indispensable to the company. True to his fanaticism to Bollywood star, he names the virus after his celebrity crush, Leela Zahir. The book takes on different points of views as well, showing how the virus affects these individuals.

Things take a turn for the worse after an unforseen bug in Leela (the virus) emerges. Zahir’s fame increases exponentially after the spread of Leela, Guy Swift’s – a business/marketing guru –  life is changed as the virus continues to ruin businesses. This book is a constant reminder of the the detrimental effects of the computer virus, which has now transcended all physical barriers. All of these seemingly unconnected characters were connected through Leela, and given the grave tone of the book, it’s not always a good thing.

The technological virus vs. the organic virus are in many ways very alike. Although, one difference could be the research behind these types of viruses. In The Ghost Map, we saw how important research was on an ever changing physical virus. Although, with the recent boom in technology, there are new and emerging, man made or machine made, occurrences, there is not as much understanding. Therefor less control and making it a new monster our society as a whole must battle.

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2 thoughts on “Transmission

  1. I agree with you in how technological viruses and organic viruses follow parallel lines of definition but they are also very different. We need to take precautions with people and them getting sick by viruses the same way we need to take recessions with our computers to help keep them from getting sick from viruses. Viruses for technology and organic viruses grow and develop as time goes on and we need to constantly work to keep them from growing and becoming more and more dangerous.

  2. I find it interesting that Arjun buys a sports team shirt first thing and is so enamored with american culture when he arrives. It seems the character has a pattern of building fantastical ideas and being disappointed in them. The spread of the virus and how it corrupts digital information to the point of disrupting so many lives I wonder if it’s far from the truth. In my tech experiences I’ve watched small business bankrupt themselves because of the lack of a simple backup. We’ve seen Sony Studios and Target shell out millions in settlements and defense on consumer data. The evolution of the network and the constant connectivity creates so many doors in to a corporation it’s hard to imagine that something like Leela hasn’t happened yet, or that its a matter of time before it does.

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