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…Is that he has only (just) published five novels. I’ve read several of them: Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, but also Deception Point and the absolutely hilarious Digital Fortress¹. I have, since I first read him, suggested that he is the literary equivalent of MacDonalds food: Cheap, convenient, easy to cram down, requires no real (further) processing—but it’s bad for you, and while I won’t condemn anyone for reading it (after all, I have), I might think less of someone to whom it is more than an occasional guilty pleasure…

So how has this man made a name for himself without writing dozens upon dozens of books? And, if he can sell so many copies of each poorly-researched and ill-written book, why doesn’t he write more?

Dan Brown fun: The Telegraph has a list of twenty(ish) of his clumsiest phrases. Slate has a Dan Brown novel plot generator.

¹ The most egregious and memorable mistakes (determined by being the ones I can still remember) are the following—it should here be kept in mind that this is a book that puts on airs of being intelligent, and has cryptography at the very core of the plot:

  • Brown cannot seemingly tell bits and bytes apart. 64-bit keys and 64-character keys really aren’t the same.

  • By far the worst: The characters make constant reference to the Bergofsky Principle: Loosely, every type of encryption can be broken by brute force. In fact, an unbreakable encryption algorithm was known at least by 1913: The Vernam One-Time Pad.

  • This horrifies me: When Googling the phrase, I actually found an attempt at a technical paper that makes reference to the “Bergofsky Principle”!


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Petter Häggholm

April 2016

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