Technology in the wrong hands – a review of Robert A Kaiser’s Project Yellow Sky

by Philip Gowman on 23 November, 2007 updated 13 February, 2011

in Book Reviews | Novels in English

Project Yellow Sky coverRobert A Kaiser: Project Yellow Sky — A Korean Conspiracy
(Authorhouse, November 2006)

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Those who visit websites with Korea-related content may have come across advertisements for this book in the Google Ads panel. A topical thriller, about the North Koreans trying to steal nuclear secrets… it must be worth putting in the suitcase for a bit of light holiday reading, I thought.

Oh dear. Where to start? The identity of the author? No information is provided in the book itself, but the blurb at Amazon suggests it’s someone very like the star of the plot. I’m not so sure. Based on the leaden prose, a plot both clichéd and unlikely, and an ignorance or carelessness of certain details of the English language (the familiar it’s / its error, a general sloppiness with apostrophes and inverted commas, the confusion of homonyms such as illusion / allusion, an over-reliance on scare quotes… I could go on) I’d guess someone in their early teens, with an admittedly creative imagination.

The plot? Meet Fred Funtley, an unlikely hero. Seemingly modelled on Dilbert, a cubicle-dwelling no-hoper at the bottom of the office food chain in an engineering company, Fred’s speciality is giving status reports and powerpoint presentations. He moves to another anonymous engineering company to join the equally oddly-named Brad Blazer, and before he knows it he’s on a top secret project transferring nuclear technology to the Japanese. A lynchpin of the project because no-one can explain a process chart as well as Fred, he’s soon off to Tokyo and is immediately bedded by a curvaceous oriental lovely and then recruited by the CIA. The love interest is unceremoniously assassinated, but in her dying breath manages to finger the mole responsible for leaking the project’s details to the North Koreans.

Back home, Fred’s wife (“a good-looking, intelligent lady”) is struggling to work out what to do with a credit card bill, so the CIA charters a private jet to take him back to the States, where he is tasked with learning more about the troublesome organisation who’s leaking all those secrets. A couple of beers with the mole, a thirty-second whinge about how his boss never gives him enough credit, and he’s a card-carrying member of POOPI1

“Well Fred”, Marla purred softly, “you’ve certainly convinced me that you’re our type of guy”.

POOPI’s aim is to subvert the world order and replace it with something not very well-defined (though we learn later that one version of the plan is to install the Dear Leader as World Leader).

To cut to the chase, a somewhat arbitrary plot to kill the US ambassador to Seoul is foiled (success would have led to certain nuclear armageddon), POOPI is cleaned up, North Koreans with the unlikely names of Matt Fong and Tony Shu are left blustering in broad New York gangster dialect about how to respond to the setbacks, while the Dear Leader seeks comfort in his harem.

“Based on historical facts,” says Amazon.

This book demonstrates what can happen when technology ends up in the wrong hands. It’s clearly an argument for nuclear non-proliferation, and it also presents a compelling case for prohibiting the sale of word-processing software to unlicensed authors. While self-publishing is to be encouraged in the interests of freedom of speech, you are advised to proceed with extreme caution in this particular case.

Links

  • Go on, ignore me. Buy this book at Amazon.com or amazon.co.uk and give it to a Dan Brown fan for Christmas. Amazon.com readers have given it 5 stars. De gustibus…

Keywords:

  1. Power of our People Institute []

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