Book review: The Fear Index by Robert Harris

The Fear Index
The Fear Index by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun, though at times, implausible read about how a computer genius works for a hedge fund and creates a powerful algorithm that learns not only how to work the stock market, but how to leverage information it can glean from all sorts of digital sources, such as the news.

I felt like I learned a lot about algorithmic trading, in which computers buy and sell stocks in milliseconds.

The main character, though, was hard to like. He was a cranky genius, more concerned about his artificial intelligence than anything else. So when it seems like his identity is stolen and things happen to him that he seems to be the cause of (through orders made from his email and payments made from his accounts), and it is clear that his clever AI is behind it though no one believes him, it seems Harris is trying to make him sympathetic. But his cranky reactions (and over actions) and inability to communicate make him annoying.

Luckily, the super clever AI is still there, churning away dastardly plot points to keep the novel moving. It’s pure escapist fun, and enough of a framework with which to explore all the good research that went into making the speculative fiction seem somewhat plausible.

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