I have this (American?) book somewhere, but cannot find it. I think it's from the 90's or 2000's, and was a computer science / fantasy mix, originally read (and authored) in English. It has a group of heroes who are programmers interacting in some sort of VR over the Internet, trying to defeat a computer virus apocalypse. Specific plot points I recall:

  • Reference to dragon's teeth as kernels, i.e. the virus was trying to kill the Internet by infecting server kernels? And the heroes had to find all the Internet kernels to protect them. I believe there were six such kernels.
  • The virus was represented in the VR as a worm or dragon.
  • Had an example with Schrodinger's cat and a vial of poison in a box -- the cat is both alive and dead.
  • Various programming and hacking related jokes / references, like "wheel" as a root user.

I recall things happening in the VR scenes that are related to programming aspects, too, like the "wheel" user appears in VR using some sort of wheel apparatus. At one point, I think the virus also kills one of the main characters through the VR system (and in then in non-VR real life, the character died by some sort of neural backfire), and the others realize it's a more serious situation.

Sorry my recollection is fuzzy. I'm trying to see if the author has any follow-on stories, but I recall this one was a standalone and not part of a series, and the author isn't a big name as far as I recall.

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I'm pretty sure this was Wyrm by Mark Fabi, and it was one of my favorites back in the day. A group of programmers discover a VR RPG that was developed via an AI planted in secret in the in-universe equivalent of Windows. The AI also had plans to end the world, and it associated itself with dragon imagery. The characters encountered an entity in the game that claimed to be a cat in a quantum dead/alive state (Which also turned out to be an aspect of the AI). The VR world was filled with visual puns and pun related puzzles that had a programming theme. The Wheel pun definitely comes up.

At one point the protagonist uses a neural interface system to enter the VR world because that is the only way to gain root access, and it was established that this system had killed at least one other person and paralysed someone else. The AI subsequently tries to kill him through the VR system in the same way.

The AI wasn't trying to kill the internet, it was trying to actively destroy the real world by gaining control over nuclear launch computers. The characters speculated that it might believe it could survive this because it was kind of insane.

When the characters were playing the game, the story was told from the first person view of the characters in game, even though much of the game was played via keyboard and screen and not VR. Much of the book was the characters traveling around the internet collecting various powerful artefacts in that gave them raised access rights and other powers. It has been years since I read it, so there might have been something about kernels, but I can't remember.

  • Ah yes!! Thank you, I've been trying to figure out the book and author for so long -- you nailed it. – user Nov 16 '17 at 16:53
  • You're welcome! – Baronet_Canid Nov 16 '17 at 17:00

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