The Gotham Chronicles>

Book 1 Quagmire in Queens::: by Brion Hathaway   See Book Cover    Cast    Alt Title    Artwork    Reviews   Plot

Hackers and phreakers from the New York City borough of Queens ruled cyberspace in the 1980s - the golden age of hacking. Mostly geeks and nerds with names like Phiber 0ptik, Sc0rpi0n, and Acid Phreak, they were an arrogant bunch who thought they owned the biggest computer system in the world: the NYNEX phone network. Fast forward to the year 2005 and John Clayton, aka The Pr0fess0r, is still cracking codes although most of his activities are now legit.
Clayton, a brilliant mathematician, was paid a large sum of money for creating an algorithm that was adopted by Wall Street as the de facto standard for encrypting their files. A proviso was attached that he safeguard the code by protecting it against hackers. The government has declared supercomputers to be illegal in civilian hands but to protect his secrets against a possible "brute force" attack by an underworld supercomputer, Clayton builds a supercomputer himself: a cutting-edge machine named Beowulf.
Clayton and his hacker friends have been living in obscurity until Beowulf discovers an assassination plot against a Queens congressman - Daniel Eng - who has just proposed legislation against the credit card industry better known as Big Bank. The group can't go to the authorities without blowing their anonymity! If they come out in the open, they'll take on the wrath of Big Bank, the assassins [read Mob], and the Feds who want to bring them in for questioning and confiscate their advanced supercomputer. Thus, the hackers face a huge quagmire of whether to reveal the plot and save the congressman's life, or stay under the radar and play it safe!

Book 2 Brouhaha in Brooklyn::: by Brion Hathaway   See Book Cover    Cast    Alt Title    Artwork    Reviews

On a shopping spree to Kings Plaza, Darla - the hackers' beautiful martial arts sidekick - is accosted by three young punks in the vast mall parking lot. After the brouhaha, one of the assailants, with just a broken bone, is taken to the hospital and dies. Darla is then accused of murder by the Brooklyn police and turns to her computer hacker friends and an unlikely Brooklyn Eagle journalist to help prove her innocence.
They soon learn that other young men, homeless but otherwise healthy, have died mysteriously at the same hospital - BedStuyMed - a facility owned and operated by the giant drug company Pelzer Pharmaceuticals. John Clayton, the leader of the hackers, assigns Beowulf to dig deep into the Pelzer servers where the giant supercomputer discovers that they've been running experiments on these young men who "nobody will miss" as part of a bioterror conspiracy that could plunge the nation into a health pandemic as decimating as the Black Death of the Middle Ages - a scenario where Big Pharma would profit handsomely from the sales of their antidote!

Book 3 Mayhem in Manhattan::: by Brion Hathaway    See Book Cover    Cast    Alt Title    Artwork    Reviews

The year is 2006 and something is wrong on Wall Street. There's a new kid on the block who's making more money than all the other hedge funds combined. The firm - led by an East German, Wellington Brandt - always makes the right trade at the right time while others don't. It's against all odds. And that - the mathematical improbability - is what troubles the pundits who advise Wall Street. Major players on the Street feel that the market is rigged. At their behest, the highest powers in government order the NSA to investigate and restore trust to the financial markets. When that doesn't pan out, John Clayton and his hacker friends are called in as a last resort to solve the problem.
The hackers literally move underground into the abandoned City Hall subway station where they tap into the Internet lines that run between the New York Stock Exchange and the world's biggest Internet hub at 60 Hudson Street. Plan A is for Clayton's outlawed but unrivaled supercomputer, Beowulf, to monitor Brandt's trades and unearth the black box trading algorithm. The other option is Plan B: Darla's plan, to get into Brandt's personal life and throw him off his game. To cause mayhem. To unsettle him. To pressure him into making a mistake and giving away the illegal strategy that has made billions of dollars for his firm - Blitzkrieg Global.
Along the way, Beowulf meets his most formidable opponent: a lightning-quick, organic computer named Juggernaut who has only one weakness: because he's an organism, he has to eat. Juggernaut is controlled by former members of the Stasi, the now defunct East German secret police who, as former rabid communists, want to strike at the very heart of Western capitalism: Wall Street!

Book 4 Brawl in the Bronx::: by Brion Hathaway    See Book Cover    Cast    Alt Title    Artwork    Reviews

While walking from the subway to her new digs on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, Darla gets into a brawl with some drug dealers but is rescued by her guardian angels, the Ghost Shadows. But two days after being locked up, the thugs are back on the street, signed out by the CIA. What gives? A "letter of mark"? Are the Feds sponsoring street crime? For what purpose? Did Congress deny them funds for their latest mission? A lot of questions requires a lot of answers and Darla enlists the help of Harry 'The Hound' Humphley - chief gumshoe for the CSS, the investigative arm of the NSA - for answers.
When Harry's inquiries are categorically rebuffed by the CIA, Harry smells a rat and takes a leave of absence from his post to investigate. John Clayton and the other hackers join the fray and order their supercomputer Beowulf to dig deeper - much deeper into government files. Using his unique 'fuzzy logic' set of algorithms, Beowulf eventually identifies the drug thugs as mercenaries, part of a group that, at one time, worked for the CIA. Together, they determine that drug dealing in the Bronx is just the tip of the iceberg.
Drug trafficking, arms smuggling, murder, assassination, blackmail, kidnapping and money laundering are just some of the secret government sponsored nefarious crimes that the hackers uncover. They even learn that the CIA organized a group of prostitutes and provided them with lavishly decorated apartments to which they could bring clients for various purposes, blackmail being just one. Their discoveries beg two questions: 1) why does the CIA need all the loot? and 2) how can you stop the most powerful nation in the world from committing these criminal acts? It's the biggest conundrum the hackers have ever faced. If they reveal the activities of this rogue CIA faction it could get them killed or imprisoned. And if they live to tell about it, it could plunge the nation into the most serious Constitutional crisis of modern times!

Book 5 Storm over Staten Iland::: by Brion Hathaway    See Book Cover    Cast    Alt Title    Artwork    Reviews

When two young scientists are murdered on the Staten Island Ferry, the Mob is immediately blamed because they stand to lose billions of dollars if the researcher's claims are true. The Staten Island landfill - the largest "dump" in the world - is kept in check by the Mob's trucking firms who cart the trash out of the City. But the development of garbage eating microbes by the scientists threatens to reduce the landfill to harmless CO2 and water.
The Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island is three times the size of Central Park and more than 200 feet high, a financial boon for trucking firms - mostly controlled by the Mob - who billed City taxpayers well more than a billion dollars each year for carting the City's trash to remote locations in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Maryland. But the cash cow seems to be in jeopardy when a team of young scientists at the College of Staten Island develops plastic eating bacteria that considerably reduce the height of a small section of the landfill. The microbes eat paper and rubber too, giving off only harmless carbon dioxide and water. It means that carting trash away may no longer be necessary if trash management via these beneficial microbes can be conducted within the City limits. It seems to be a windfall for the City but bad luck for the Mob.
But before the young scientists can divulge their secrets, two of them are murdered on the Staten Island Ferry. The third - grad student Karen Olson - disappears causing a storm of outrage by denizens of the borough. Organized crime - the Mob - is immediately suspected. The Feds are called in and the heat is turned on. Adding fuel to the fire occurs when the experimental section of the landfill is torched, thereby killing all the remaining beneficial bacteria with no one remaining to restore them. Thus, the Mob is back in business.
Brooklyn Eagle journalist and ex-wise-guy Louie Vee calls in a marker. He asks John Clayton and his hacker friends to investigate. His cousin Joey 'Glad Rags' Siclione 'swore on his mother's grave' that he and his clan had nothing to do with the murders and disappearance of the young scientists. And Louie believes him. And John Clayton believes Louie. So, the hackers move to Staten Island, to be near the action, to the abandoned Staten Island Monastery with its myriad sub-floors, a perfect place to house the hackers' gadgets, gismos and their incredible supercomputer - Beowulf. Once there, in New York City's neglected borough, the investigation takes an unexpected twist and they need to think outside the box to find the girl, solve two murders and help the environment!

The five novels that make up the Gotham Chronicles were all inspired by the Hacker Manifesto. The novels are crafted in the muckraking genre inspired by the tireless efforts of Ida Tarbell who was one of the leading "muckrakers" of the progressive era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is thought to have pioneered investigative journalism.

Over the course of the five books that make up the Gotham Chronicles, Beowulf undergoes a gradual transformation from a bunch of circuit boards [in Book 1] to a spiritual being endowed with AI - artificial intelligence [in Book 5]. Read the story of Beowulf

New York City wuz first nicknamed Gotham by native son Washington Irving in 1807!

Email author Brion Hathaway