Yes I am taking another liberty with my personal challenge of discussing books with one word titles for my penultimate contribution to the crime fiction alphabet but, having been rather heavily ensconced in the madness that surrounded this particular event, I couldn’t resist discussing at least one of the plethora of books that were churned out in the lead up to 1 January 2000. For those who don’t remember, the problem (variously named the Y2K problem, the Year 2000 problem, the Millennium Bug etc) related to a supposed catastrophe that would befall the world because most computer code used 2 digits to refer to years (eg 97, 98, 99) and when the calendar rolled over to the year 2000 the computers would all think it was 1900 and mayhem would ensue (there are now and were then several dozen very logical reasons why no major catastrophes were ever going to happen but in our modern world we tend not to let facts get in the way of a good fear campaign so international committees were established and many dollars were spent to fix the non problem).
Y2K was thriller writer R J Pineiro’s second book to address the predicted digital doomsday (his other one was called 01-01-2000 and was published the same year). It was one of the more bizarre efforts at the genre within a genre and if memory serves me properly involved a villainous Slobodan Milosevic (presumably taking time out from committing genocide and whatnot) developing a scheme to bring the US to its knees by making all its computers non-compliant with Y2K requirements. His evil henchmen are battled by a female ex-CIA agent whose name escapes me but I do recall that she left the CIA after many years when her lover was killed but is forced back into the world of espionage and people killing each other for nonsensical reasons by the hunt for a world-saving millennium bug code. I don’t recall much else about the book.
Why did I read this book? For some sins committed in a previous life in the lead up to 1 January 2000 I was working in an IT section of a large government department and inherited responsibility for ensuring that our particular part of the world didn’t come to a disastrous halt on T H E B I G D A Y. From the outset I was more than a little skeptical of the need to spend hundreds of thousands of tax payers’ dollars hiring blokes who could only afford their Brooks Brothers suits and BMWs because they’d managed to scare the bejesus out of bureaucrats the world over and was known to rant at length about the idiocy of the entire thing. As a mood lightening exercise one of the project team members gave me a book called Y 2 K: The Millenium Bug by Don Tiggre as a joke and things snowballed from there. It became great sport to see who could find the silliest Year 2000 related book for me and I ended up with quite a collection.
I love that my favourite genre often tackles the big subjects facing the world with more heart and insight than any other kind of writing, including journalism. The flip side of course is that, on occasion, it also tackles the nonsense subjects that distract personkind from the things that matter. You have to take the good with the bad I guess and we can at least rest easily that this book, and the dozens of others on the theme, are all now the pulp that they should always have been because they’re dated and irrelevant.
I do like to play the “what will be next” game though. Swine Flu thrillers possibly?