Thursday, April 25th, 1996, was National Book Day. At least, it was in Canada. Coincidentally, it was also the day on which I received (by courier) the first advance copy of the second edition of my book.

BKCVP2.RVW 960409 (my birthday)

%A   Robert M. Slade
%C   175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY   10010
%D   1996
%E   Martin Gilchrist
%G   0-387-94663-2
%I   Springer-Verlag
%O   U$34.95 +1-800-SPRINGER, fax +1-201-348-4505
%O   in Europe email, UK
%O   Product Manager
%O   (and the title is *STILL NOT MY IDEA!*)
%P   422
%T   "Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses", Second Edition

(Yes, I am reviewing my own book. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.)

(Cue music: o/` It's my project, I can review what I want to ... o/`)

(For those who think that my reviewing my own book is just a tad bit too indulgent [and you're probably right], you might be more interested in Howard Wood's prespective.)

And it came to pass that among the Appleites there were some who said, one to another, come, let us explore what manner of programs may preferentially reproduce themselves among the boot tracks of diskettes. And the first lived not. And they built a second, which lived and grew. And the game of "Congo" was seen no more. And they said, one to another, "Oops." And they did build a third, and this did smite the second, mightily, until there was peace again. (And there were others, among the Appleites, who did very much the same thing, so that each could not tell whether they were hearing the story of the other. And both of these groups were from Texas, which is only what you might expect.)

And one of the sons of Cohen did arise, and did hypothesize about the consequences of a program which did copy itself. And he strove mightily with the angel Turing, and did determine that the tape which could name a virus had no end. And the tribes of the virus arose, and great was their number. And the elders and the scribes thanked Cohen, and went forth to do battle. And Cohen said, let us make more viruses, that they may serve us. And the Elders and the scribes said, "Fred, you're weird."

And forth did come MacMag (whose name was also "Peace", but it brought not peace), and nVIR-B, and SCORES more. And the Sons of Mac went forth with many weapons. And one arose among the Sons of Mac who said, "Weapons enough do we have, wherefore I will build not new weapons, but seek to see which of the many weapons smite the virus most mightily." And he looked at the weapons for many days, and this one had holes, and that was rusted out, and the other had a hole of the loop. And he did say unto himself, "Hmmmmmm", and did write Disinfectant, wherefore his name is revered among the Sons of Mac even unto this day.

And there arose one whose username was LUKEN, though he was not called Luke, and he was a mighty scribe, and received and sent the epistles of those who were attacked by viruses, and those who fought them. And the people cried out for facts, and a FAQ was given unto them (but much later). And lo, another did take his place, but his nickname we do not say.

And among the followers of the messy DOS there arose Flu-Shot, plus SCAN, and F-PROT, and many others. (And this was in the days when the great Norton, whose utility was vast, did laugh, and say that viruses were like unto the alligators of the sewers of New York, and that they were a superstition of the people, and that those who preached them led the people after false gods.) And the people did cry out, and say, "Who shall deliver us from the viruses? And which of the weapons shall we use?" And this was their cry day and night, and yet no man answered.

And lo, it the fullness of time, in a pleasant, but very wet, corner of the dominion, a certain small scribe said "sigh", and poked and prodded at the weapons, and did send his messages unto the scribe LUKEN (as he still was at that time). And this was in the days before the FAQ, and the small scribe did send many epistles, telling of the virus, and what it was and what it did.

But in those days did arise the giants, among whom were those who were never wrong, plus those whose shift keys worked not, and yet those who secured disks and killed monkeys, and one who was so wise his name was a proverb. And there arose those who would be giants (but were not), and they threatened to impale the giants upon the bomb of the atom, for they were masters of deception and promised good times for all. And one said, "See, I have made a network of those who exchange viruses to see how virus exchangers network!" And another said, "See, I have made me a virus which is not a virus and which yet is a virus and this proves that viruses are good!" And there was yet another who would be a giant, and he made him a weapon which rattled in its scabbard, and yet also in its hilt, and said, "See, this will make me unbeatable!" And the scribes and elders esteemed him not, wherefore he went unto the exchangers and asked them to say how good his weapon was, and they were all very happy to do so, for reasons best known only to him and them.

And the small scribe pondered all these things, a gathered together his papers into a form like unto a codex, and sent it to a Publisher. And the Publisher looked upon the codex with favour, and said unto the small scribe, "We shall call this, "The Small Scribe's Codex of Computer Viruses". And the small scribe was disturbed, and cried out, and said that this name was Not A Good Idea. And the Publisher said, "See, we have cut you a cheque, and it is for an advance." And the small scribe said, "Now that I think of it, that name does have a certain ring to it ..."

And in the fullness of time, the Publisher said unto the small scribe, write for us yet a second edition, as you did with the first. So he did that, and then took of his materials and made a list. And the elders and the scribes gazed upon it, and their eyes grew heavy. And while they slept, the small scribe took their words and twisted them, such that he made them to say about his codex:

"Did Zvi Netiv put you up to this?"
-           Vesselin Bontchev
"Mr. Slade's lists are more interesting than the NYC phone book."
-           Dr. Fred Cohen
"This is definitely not safe."
-           Nancy Leveson
"Obviously some johnny-come-lately upstart."
-           Harold Joseph Highland
                                  (real quotes from HJH and Dr.
                                   Denning do 
"Should be held in escrow"         actually appear on the cover of the
-           Dorothy Denning        2nd edition)

"IT'S A BEARD                    SLADE'S BOOK
     PLUS VIRUS                      HELPS MORE THAN
         THAT YOU HAVE?                  BURMA SHAVE!"
-           Iolo Davidson
(contributed to this review parody by 
Martin Erdelen)
"Is this guy some kind of comedian?"
-           William Murray
"i think it's nice, and i like the title but i have some questions
-           sara gordon
"A mantlepiece!"
-           Terry Jones
"I only have a hundred new samples that came in this week, and then
I'll read it.  Promise."
-           Fridrik Skulason
"It didn't mention *any* of the viruses from the latest issue of
-           Paul Williams
"Should have had more sample code."
-           Ralph Burger
-           John McAfee (forwarded by Aryeh Goretsky)(please allow six
"uh oh, another computer virus book"
-           Joe A. Dellinger
"Vrooooom, vrooooom!"
-           Padgett Peterson
"Too long."
-           Ross Greenberg
"Still doesn't reliably detect MtE."
-           Vesselin Bontchev
"[A bruised read.  I booked off time for this?  The author should be
-           PGN
"Should be powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a
lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts."
-           Eugene H. Spafford
"Where's my baseball bat?"
-           Edwin Cleton
"Where's the virus samples Web site?"
-           200 members of a.c.v
"Is this legal?"
-           Paul Ferguson
"For only $25 you can read my Computer Virus Guide Simulator, which I
have adapted by putting it on a piece of wood and banging a few nails
through it."
-           Doren Rosenthal
"I don't think this is funny."
-           Brad Templeton
"We're the federal government.  We don't *do* that."
-           James Earl Jones
"Let me diagram that on a Turing machine for you ..."
-           Yaron Goland (of UCLA)
"Resistance is futile: you will be assimilated."
-           Yaron of Microsoft
"Are you *sure* `BSI' isn't a dirty word?"
-           Senator Exon
"A great virus book.  No, I meant a great *anti*virus book.  No, I
meant a great *virus* book.  No ..."
-           John Buchanan
"Stop monkeying around."
-           Tim Martin
-           Ray Kaplan
"How odd!"
-           Roger Riordan
"richard, do we know him?"
-           sarah ford
"My title was better than his."
-           Cliff Stoll
"Come on, stop beating around the bush.  Who wrote this?"
-           Alan Solomon
"I elisted this book, and I have the password.  Therefore I am now the
-           Gene Paris
"Kill it!"
-           Suzana Stojakovic-Celustka
"We probably shouldn't be publicising stuff like this."
-           J. B. Condat

Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, John Houston and Federico Fellini are working on a co-production of the movie version. Casting is not yet complete, but rumours indicate that Tom Hanks will play frisk, Arnold Scwartzenegger will portray Padgett Peterson, Richard Attenborough will represent Harold Joseph Highland, and Mark Ludwig will be Stoned. The part of Vesselin Bontchev will be played by a Cray YMP.

Top ten reasons why "Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses" is
better than Brand X:
10.      Only the second virus book ever to be published in a second
         edition by the same publisher.  (OK, maybe it's not a great
         distinctive, but its a distinctive.)
 9.      Chapter two, the "Beginner's Panic Guide"
 8.      RSGCV is not limited to MS-DOS
 7.      The disk with RSGCV contains software for both MS-DOS and Mac
 6.      First book to discuss Word Macro viruses
 5.      Two words:  more contacts
 4.      Not just a title list, but full reviews of almost all the
         books in the field
 3.      Author not beholden to any group or company (except SV)
 2.      Antiviral Protection Checklist
And the number one reason why RSGCV is better:
 1.      Jeff Richards' "Laws of Data Security"

Finally, if I may be serious, I have received a number of positive (and some negative) comments on the book. I appreciate all of them, of course, but one that was particularly meaningful was the following email, from the copy editor of the first edition (my own "working title" for the book was "The Binary Hydra"):

From: Fae 
Subject: binary hydra
just a brief note -- i assume the book is now out of impressions.  I
was the anonymous freelance copy editor who queried and had the
pleasure of reading the answers to those queries.  I wanted to tell
you I thought the book was good, and ch. 7 a lovely piece both in
writing and in sentiment.

Find virus, book info
        Mirrored at
        Linked to bookstore at
Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses, 0-387-94663-2 (800-SPRINGER)