Book Review: Daemon, by Daniel Suarez

Editor’s Note: My last post was about being thankful for our multitude of blessings. I forgot a BIG ONE: The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. Thank you, Pete, Russell, Marshawn, Richard, and the amazing SEAHAWKS squad for this incredibly inspiring season! See you in the Super Bowl!

Imagine the first human murdered via the Internet. Killed by an Internet-connected device triggered by a software program unleashed by dead man. This is the setup for a story that is both thrilling and thought provoking, Daemon, by Daniel Suarez.

The dead man is a PhD computer gaming magnate, successful and wealthy, but unable to overcome the cancer in his body. Instead of going quietly, he creates a massively-distributed computer daemon (def: self-running process) bent on transforming the world.

The twist – and what makes this story compelling for me – is the transformation angle. It isn’t your typical good vs. evil story, with technology being portrayed as one or the other. Suarez begins with a condemnation of the Western military-industrial complex, then posits a very real scenario for its destruction, and designs a new world order based on today’s emerging and dominant technologies: Internet, computer gaming, virtual reality and social networking.

The main villain, if you can call him that, is the gamer and cyber-criminal, Gragg. Gragg is a villain because he rapes, murders and cozies up to virtual Nazis. Suarez doesn’t condemn him, however. The Daemon uses Gragg to help further its own goals and installs Gragg as a leader in the new world order. This presents us with one of the central questions of the story: What to do about the “disaffected youth” of today – anti-social gamers, hackers, slackers, identity thieves. If you start with the assumption, as Suarez does, that our society has some deep-seated problems, then cast the slackers as victims, then turn them into productive members of a new society; well, then you might just have something.

As a novel, Daemon is nicely constructed, and reads well. Suarez is well versed in Internet and gaming technology, and the book hits the mark for me technically. As you know, I’m a fan of IoT – the Internet of Things. Daemon paints a dark, but plausible vision for how IoT fits in with the next evolution of Western economy and society.

Suarez also gives us a follow-up story, Freedom™, which develops the political and social ideas from Daemon, with less emphasis on the technology. I like to read a book when I know there is a follow-up, in case I’m hungry for more. And in this case I was!

If there’s a downside to the book, it’s that there are some disturbing scenes as the Daemon uses any means necessary to bring about the transformation. Which means you’ll want to make sure the reader’s maturity level is pretty high – middle school and most high schoolers would be too young. But anyone who is a fan of sci-fi, technology, dystopia, politics and good writing, will enjoy Daniel Suarez.

Available for Kindle here.

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