Identify a sci-fi novel or story for my friend

Howdy! My childhood and lifelong buddy is reminiscing about science fiction he read as a kid, and he asked for help identifying something. I figured the passel of dudes here who read little else could probably help.

Here’s what he writes:

The first was about a scientist who develops a weapon that can focus energy anywhere on Earth. I vaguely remember that it was driven by a miniature black hole. I think the weapon was called the Jericho bomb or j-bomb. The start of the novel was the scientist doing work on a computer, and when he logged off getting charged $12? For the computing time. In the climax of the novel, he set the weapon to destroy? Or prepared to destroy all the nukes, and to destroy any energy signature like the weapons source. One of the military guys says something like “he’s made us slaves to this weapon”, with the response “no, he’s set us free”.

Could Jericho be “Genesis”? If so, then the likely candidate is The Genesis Machine by James P. Hogan. The plot sounds roughly comparable, and the quoted language sounds Hogan-y to me.

(Hogan was an author who wrote some pretty decent hard sci-fi in the 70s and 80s and then drifted over time into whacky and controversial views and theories. His early stuff is still interesting.)

Sounds like Earth by David Brin.

Sounds vaguely like Ground Zero Man by Bob Shaw though some of it doesn’t match up. The end controlling the nukes via energy signature does though.

The black hole focusing weapon bit really does sound like Earth, although I read it so long ago I can’t vouch for any of the rest of the the plot bits you’ve listed, and I can’t find a good summary anywhere.

Same here. Though IIRC they called the weapon a “graser” in that book.

It’s not this, but the weapon able to focus energy at a distance anywhere is part of the plot of Lem’s best novel, His Master’s Voice

Seems a bit weird to write what seems to be an anti-nuke parable where the saviour is, um, a world-endingly powerful weapon.

This was it! My friend and I thank you.

Ground Zero Man may nail that a bit better, it as also first published in 71 not 76 as the quote suggests (that was the UK release)

At the end, Hutchman realises that rather than to the elimination of nuclear weapons, his invention just led to further investments in them, to create new bombs impervious to neutron resonance.

Its grim conclusion shows precisely and prophetically (1976, remember) the flaw in today’s plans for ‘star wars’ energy-beam defences." -Dave Langford

Yep, this is it.

edit: Oh, I guess there was ANOTHER book that involved using mini blackholes by terrorists to kill people? That’s funny.

After Niven wrote the seminal short story “Hole Man” (iirc in the early 70s) the idea of black holes including mini black holes, was very popular in sci-fi for a few years.

I think he called them quantum black holes, as part of the evolving Big Bang Theory at the time. It’s a fantastic story, IMHO (as is Brin’s Earth, never read the Genesis Project).

Earth I seem to recall involved a mini black hole falling into the center of the earth, and orbiting around it inside… and they were trying to get it out before it destroyed the earth or something? And at some point there ended up being another mini black hole down there? And some terrorist took control of a system that could do something like line them up and create a gravity laser or something that started destroying stuff on the surface.

Honestly, it’s super vague in my mind… I should read it again.

More than that, turned out the hole had been put there by aliens to test us or something.


Yeah, that was my reaction as well.

That’s impressive, Mr Sharpe.

There’s a certain Libertarian Savior flavor to the language quoted in the OP that made me think of Hogan. I like early Hogan but he was definitely proselytizing a certain POV.