Private Offerings by Ann Bridges takes the reader to several worlds: the rarefied air of Silicon Valley, where developers do battle using software bugs as weapons; the halls of power in communist China, where agrarian dreams struggle against the need for technological advancement; and the human heart, where love and responsibility and regret combine into a potent cocktail of conflict.
Much of the action focuses on high-level financial dealings, jockeying for political gain, and media manipulation, set within the context of every software company’s biggest leap forward, the dreaded IPO. Hints of sex are sprinkled throughout, featuring provocatively-dressed wannabe execs using their feminine wiles to manipulate both clueless and not-so-clueless coders, with varying results. If you’re looking for violence, you won’t find much here: the wheeling and dealing provide the excitement, not unlike James Clavelle’s 1981 novel Noble House.
Without spoiling the novel, one of the most interesting aspects was how much of the conflict hinged on a single press release, showing the reader how one message, properly crafted and produced at just the right time, can make a world’s worth of difference.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable read, something different. If you’re familiar with business fiction you’ll no doubt find a lot in Private Offerings to entertain. If this is your first foray into the genre, then dive on in, the water’s fine. Just watch out for the commies and femmes fatale.