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The Kamikaze Equation [The Aragon Files Book 1] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Daniel B. Jeffs & Will Hart

eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Technopolis, Japan... The design of the city is based on ancient Shogunate prefectures, but its inhabitants are dedicated to developing the science and technology of the future, in which Japan will be the dominant power...Silicon Valley, California...The brain trusts in The Valley developed the technological staples the world depends on in the 20th century, and now are creating the high-tech the world will demand in the 21st, in which the U.S. will be the dominant power...Each country has discovered an amazing new technology that may benefit humankind in ways even its creators have not yet imagined, or destroy civilization, itself...Into this paradox steps Matthew Aragon, a specialist in corporate security whose company has a world-renown reputation for preventing industrial espionage. Called upon by a friend to investigate the murder of a corporate executive, Matt soon finds all is not what it seems. From one murder to another, involving Yakuza hit-men; from a high-stakes gambling casino in Lake Tahoe, to a super-secret government facility, each step of the investigation leads him deeper into a maze, at the center of which he becomes embroiled in a nightmarish battle of good vs. evil on a high-tech scale.

eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, Published: 1998
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2004


4 Reader Ratings:
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"Matt Aragon is a force to be reckoned with in The Kamikaze Equation, as are writers Daniel B. Jeffs and Will Hart. The book is billed as a series, which will relieve readers who love high tech adventure and riveting suspense. 4-1/2 Stars!--"Booty from the other Genres", Affaire de Coeur

"Billed as a mystery, but reading more like a high-energy, high-excitement techno-thriller, THE KAMIKAZE EQUATION is a complex, skillfully plotted book that is as intelligent as it is interesting--which is saying a great deal when supercomputers are the order of the day, dueling computers at that... The protagonist, Matthew Aragon a hero to be reckoned with--one the reader will want to visit again and again because one book isn't long enough to encompass him, his philosophy, his ideas, his back ground, and his ethnic heritage. The authors have introduced me to a character I like, respect, and find a little awesome. I am looking forward to our next meeting as soon as I recover from the excitement of this one. Highly Recommended!"--Under The Cover Book Reviews


PROLOGUE

Japan, 1980 -- From Shogunate to Technopolis

The bullet train raced from the industrial grime and overcrowding of Tokyo as fast as a confused man fleeing a profound paradox. Chasing the divine wind, kamikaze, he thought. Was it really rushing from the hectic pace of the high tech, high rise future back to the rice paddies and rolling countryside of Japan's village past, hurrying from a future that generations of Japanese had struggled to create?

A look at the mix of his fellow passengers was revealing to Matthew Aragon. Young businessmen in western three piece suits. A middle-aged woman in a traditional kimono. A stooped old farmer. A group of well-behaved school children dressed alike in blue uniforms and yellow hats. They seemed serene and content on the surface. Be he discerned a subtle tension. He turned away, glancing out the window to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji's perpetual white crown rising in the distance.

Aragon closed his eyes for an instant. A confusing melange of images collided in his brain. He needed more time to sort through his impressions. The shinkansen made a blur out of the scenery. There was nothing he could fix his eyes or mind on. But this was a planned whirlwind tour. A Zen riddle. Understanding would come later -- if at all.

Planned was the key word. The future of Japan was being precisely plotted out. The ministry head had carefully explained at each stop where the new research and development centers, industrial parks and universities would be constructed. It was all part of the grand vision: Technopolis. Japan's 21st century answer to the 16th century shogun prefectures.

He looked down at the map depicting the ancient castle towns, the foundations for modern cities. Then he compared that map to the one projecting the rise of Technopolis into the coming millennia his guide had given him. At some subliminal level he was making a connection between the old pattern and the new, the shoguns who built their military forts and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry's -- MITI's -- new scheme.

At every stop his hosts had proudly pointed out the local castle and shogunate heritage. Then they pointed to the seeds of the future that were being planted in the same soil. The post-industrial Tokagawa corporate warlords were organizing their armies of researchers, teachers, developers and venture capitalists to fight the technology war of the future. The MITI concept was all inclusive. Nineteen high tech nodes were to serve as the regional nerve centers for the emerging Japanese Technopolis.

The new high tech castle towns -- which their organizers hoped would insure their country's economic survival, even dominance in the 21 century -- would be linked to the Japanese megalopolises (Tokyo, Osaka) by superhighways, airports and the bullet train. Each of the high tech nerve centers would specialize in the branch of technology appropriate to its region. Biotechnology, mechatronics, super computers...

"Aragonsan, you understand we want to copy Silicon Valley. That is the basis of our regional development scheme," Kenji Takawa, the head of MITI, said in impeccably precise English.

The American smiled and shook his head. "I'm afraid you don't comprehend the history of the West, Tawakasan. The pattern comes from the Gold Rush days. Silicon Valley was never planned. That's not how my country works." He studied his escort's features. His hair was thick and black with a few gray streaks. Like most middle-aged Japanese, he looked younger than his years. His eyes were bright and intelligent. But his face betrayed no emotion.

"Back in Hamamatsu, you compared us to shoguns. That was a joke, yes? Surely you don't believe we are modern shoguns," he said with a smile.

The California born detective shrugged. Aragon was an octo-Asian. His great grandmother had been Japanese. His eyes bore only the slightest hint of Asian epicanthic fold. Most Japanese saw him as just another gaijin. Worse, he had strange, cat colored eyes. Ethnically, his roots sank into Spanish and French soil. Culturally, he considered himself 80 percent American, 10 percent old European, 10 percent Japanese. Politically he was 100 percent Yankee. His father, the late Paul Aragon, was a veteran of World War II Iwo Jima.

Aragon had spent a semester in Kyoto studying the language as part of his post grad work in '73 during the "Oil Shoku" period. With his MBA and a minor in international economics, it made him an even more attractive candidate for the CIA. He took them up on their offer in '74 but never fit into the bureaucratic mold and quit in '77.

"I have heard that in Japan the nail that sticks out gets hammered."

The Japanese man's smile tightened.

Aragon pressed forward. "In Hamamatsu the governor said that computer chips were the rice of industry. There are people back in my country who say that Japan is mounting a campaign to win the technology war by capturing the chip market. You asked me to be frank and give you my impressions and opinions. Well, so far at every place I've been I've seen the same thing. An ancient castle surrounded by a garden and a moat rising out of an array of modern high rise corporate and government towers."

Aragon understood the Japanese mind in a way few of his fellow countrymen did. Strategy remained submerged. Evoking blunt confrontation and competitiveness was to be avoided at all costs. One had to pay special attention to comparative social status. Use precise honorifics to nail down hierarchial positions. He had the unenviable task of walking a slippery tightrope, juggling honesty and what his current employers could easily view as insult. Saving face was every bit as important to these high tech planners as it had been to their Samurai ancestors.

"There is another hammer and nail story you should know. To a man with a hammer all problems look like nails. To Americans and Europeans alike, we Japanese are engaged in a national conspiracy to take over the world. But it is not so. I can tell you from my experience in negotiations with different Japanese companies that we fiercely compete against each other. No company can allow another in its industry to get an edge. We sit down to discuss a rational solution to our problems only when the pain reaches unbearable levels, threatening to wipe out an entire industry. Then we bargain. But we can't come to terms right away no matter how bad the crisis. We must get up from the first session and leave. There is a second, a third, even a fourth. Finally, after days and sleepless nights of haggling over every point, when fatigue is setting in, we reach agreement. Only after it is clear to all sides that everyone has suffered and fought bravely to the end do we come to terms," Takawa said in a wry tone.

Aragon realized he had stepped over some invisible line. At the very least he had embarrassed his hosts. He could see that in Takawa's tight smile, hear it in a mounting tension animating his voice. They asked him to be candid in his assessment of their plan to use Silicon Valley as a template for their Technopolis scheme. Yet the concepts were so alien to their minds that they were automatically offended when he talked straight.

How could they grasp American diversity and individualism? Theirs was the most homogeneous major nation in the world. He couldn't see how he could convey to them that Silicon Valley was a product of spontaneous combustion. And they were using opposite principles to try to recreate it. He struggled with his thoughts and used the most common form of peer communications in the country. He rubbed his hands together and cleared his throat.

Takawa took his cue and continued. "Japanese industrial leaders already see how we are becoming trapped by our own success. In the future, will we be able to compete against the Koreans, Taiwanese and Chinese for the low price markets? No. Will we be able to win the battles against the Europeans for the sophisticated markets? You Americans think we are not creative. That all we can do is copy your ideas and products and make them better. That strategy worked in the past but not tomorrow. In the future we have to create and innovate to survive. We have to plan today and prove you wrong tomorrow."

There was no doubt in Aragon's mind that he had hit a delicate nerve. His escort was upset. Both had failed in their attempts to shift back and forth from American styles of thinking and communicating to Japanese.

"The irony of the situation is this, Takawasan. While you want to copy Silicon Valley, American corporate executives, government types and intellectuals are trying to find ways to copy the Japanese economic miracle. I think we will all fail."

His Japanese escort laughed. Not the embarrassed laugh that most westerners mistook for real laughter. Takawa expressed a moment of genuine mirth. It was the kind of incongruity that tickled the Japanese funny bone. Aragon laughed along with him. There was truly a comical side to the all too often tragic equation of Japanese-American relations. One mistake both sides routinely made was taking themselves too seriously. Matthew Aragon had been in Japan just long enough to gain some insight into the Japanese psyche. Takawa appreciated the great irony. It was true. Japanese businessmen had learned their managerial techniques from the United States.

By the time he boarded the plane bound for San Francisco, Matt Aragon was convinced of two things. If the high tech future was going to belong to the society that could meticulously plan, think and act alone, then Japan would own that future. His second conclusion was that business was a polite form of warfare.

Copyright © 1997 by Daniel B. Jeffs & Will Hart


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