Daemon

DaemonDaemon by Daniel Suarez
Series: Daemon #1
Publisher: Verdugo Press
Released: December 1, 2006
Pages: 432
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Technology controls almost everything in our modern-day world, from remote entry on our cars to access to our homes, from the flight controls of our airplanes to the movements of the entire world economy. Thousands of autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money, and monitoring power grids. For the most part, daemons are benign, but the same can't always be said for the people who design them.

Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer—the architect behind half-a-dozen popular online games. His premature death depressed both gamers and his company's stock price. But Sobol's fans aren't the only ones to note his passing. When his obituary is posted online, a previously dormant daemon activates, initiating a chain of events intended to unravel the fabric of our hyper-efficient, interconnected world. With Sobol's secrets buried along with him, and as new layers of his daemon are unleashed at every turn, it's up to an unlikely alliance to decipher his intricate plans and wrest the world from the grasp of a nameless, faceless enemy—or learn to live in a society in which we are no longer in control. . . .

Computer technology expert Daniel Suarez blends haunting high-tech realism with gripping suspense in an authentic, complex thriller in the tradition of Michael Crichton, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson.

Daemon is an extremely impressive piece of work. It’s a wonderfully fast paced thriller, has a relatively unpredictable storyline, and keeps you wanting more, which is in itself a job well done for most books. But Daemon goes one step further by basing itself on an extraordinary complex technological foundation, and actually succeeding.

The entire story stands or falls on the premise of people making present day technology do extremely advanced things. If this premise weren’t believable, the story would crumble completely. Fortunately the premise is presented in a rock solid manner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I believe the story in this book could actually happen, but I believe the limiting factors would be people and circumstances rather than the tech itself.
Sure, there is plenty of eyebrow-raising tech stuff in here, but never to the point where it gets silly. It gets very close to being unbelievable, but manages to walk along the edge in a comfortable and confident manner.
As for the story itself, it’s really good. Most of it escalates as an appropriate pace, and the reader is gradually eased into a series of events which, if told in another way, could easily seem absurd. However, the reader never needs to suspend their disbelief too much to get there, and therefore it actually works. The book is like a simple equation resulting in a completely unbelievable answer, but all the working is shown in great detail, and therefore you can’t help trusting the answer.
Unfortunately, while the technology never goes quite over the top, the storytelling does on a few occasions. It doesn’t happen very often, but at times the story wallows in itself a little too much. The book also doesn’t really end as much as stop. I guess this is understandable, as there is a sequel, but it would still be nice if this book felt a little more finished when it was done.

All the negatives are minor though. I’d strongly recommend this book to all geeks, as a proof of concept if nothing else. It is possible to make a mostly plausible novel in which tech is used to do crazy things. It’s better than science fiction: instead of imagining tech that doesn’t yet exist, it imagines what it could look like if current tech was used in an extremely imaginative and evil way.

It’s also a really entertaining read.

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