Friday, November 9, 2012

Guest Post with Author Udi Aharoni

Udi Aharoni, Author of "Zuto"


I started writing “Zuto” back in 2008, aiming to create a unique mix of science and fantasy. I wanted my book to be a fun, gripping adventure taking place in a fantasy world full of strange sceneries, surprising creatures, and magical devices. But my imagined fantasy world had a unique trait: it is actually real, in a way. 

I happen to be familiar with a world that exists in real life, which is truly strange, surprising, and in some aspects quite magical: the inside of a computer. Sure, there have been a lot of books, movies, and TV shows about this world, but none of them, to my taste, presented it the way it really is. I wanted to do it differently, and I had some new ideas how to do it.

I know computers very well. Starting in the eighties, I was in the first generation of kids that enjoyed the PC revolution. When I grew up I spent some time in the computer games industry, and later received a diploma from a prestigious Israeli university. In the past nine years I’ve been with IBM research. When I started writing Zuto, I used all my skill, all my experience, and all my imagination, to bring the internal world of a computer to life in colorful, fun, but realistic way. 
I steered clear of all computer-world related clichés. None of my book’s characters wield a light-saber. None of them fight to the death in battles that look like a computer game. My version of the internal world of the computer doesn’t host spaceships, smart-phones, or computers (the thought that a computer has smaller computers inside it is really silly, when you think about it).

Instead my book is packed full with picturesque sceneries that truly reflect how various hardware components work, and personified software that act quite realistically. The story itself is a one minute long (possibly the shortest book ever!) description of malware attack, and how the computer defenses react to it (Zuto, while being a computer virus, is not the attacker. He’s a small, buggy virus caught in the cross-fire).
I also threw in some “Easter eggs”: a bit of computer-pros lingo, and inside jokes of the industry. I gave some of them away in the book’s “Zutopedia” appendix, which explains the truth behind the story (but I kept some hidden. They are Easter eggs, after all).

Since the Hebrew version of the book was published in 2009 I received enthusiastic responses, and the book won some notable achievements. I hope the 2012 release of the English version will succeed as well. I’m frequently asked about a sequel, but the muse for another episode of Zuto’s adventure has not yet arrived. Currently, my spare time is spent on an older passion: animated, scientific visualizations (see for example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxENKlcs2Tw, about quick sort). I very much hope to find the inspiration for a second book afterwards.

Synopsis:



Zuto: The Adventures of a Computer Virus takes place inside a strange, little known world: a personal computer, the perfect setting for a fast-paced, funny, one-minute-long story.

Zuto, a smart, sneaky computer virus, leads a happy life in his secret hiding place: the Recycle Bin. There, among heaps of junk full of surprising treasures, he plans his tricks. Everything changes when a far more malicious program invades the computer . . . and threatens to end all life in it. Together with his Recycle Bin friends—outdated, buggy programs—Zuto sets off to save his world.

The book’s colorful and imaginative metaphors offer an insightful glimpse inside a computer. An appendix, the ‘Zutopedia,’ explains the truth behind the story: how malware works, what’s the role of firewalls, binary numbers, Easter eggs, IP addresses, and many more.

Author Bio:

Udi Aharoni is a software engineer and Maching Learning expert with IBM Research. He holds an M.A. in Computer Science.

He published short, original scientific videos on his YouTube channel “udiprod,” which has over a million views, before writing his acclaimed children’s book Zuto: The Adventures of a Computer Virus (Rimonim, August 2009).

Aharoni’s debut published first in Hebrew and was voted one of the nation’s favorite books for ages 9-12 in the Israeli Ministry of Education’s “Book Parade.” The English version followed in August 2012.

The computer whiz visits classrooms – both in person and via webcam – for discussions and lessons surrounding his educational book.

Contact Info:


Twitter: @Udi256 

Facebook: Zuto11 

Goodreads: Udi Aharoni

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