Friday, January 06, 2012

Two Techno-Thrillers

Daemon (Daemon, #1)
Daemon and  Freedom TM

“In all, his outfit required nearly two thousand man-years of research and development, eight barrels of oil, and sixteen patent and trademark infringement lawsuits. All so he could possess casual style. A style that, in logistical requirements, was comparable to fielding a nineteenth-century military brigade.  But he looked good. Casual.” ― Daniel Suarez, Daemon

While Daemon was published in 2009 it was a new book and author for me when I read it last November as part of a reading and discussion class on Science Fiction as part of the Basic Program of Liberal Education at The University of Chicago. We had read mostly classic Science Fiction stories and two earlier novels by Arthur C. Clarke and Frank Herbert, so Daniel Suarez was in rarefied company when we turned to his novel as the last work on the syllabus. We were not disappointed for his techno-thriller style of Science Fiction was, in both its imaginative content and suspense, worthy of inclusion with most of the classics.
In Daemon, a software tycoon and game designer named Matthew Sobol is dying. Sobol writes a program called the Daemon that scans news sites on the web for stories about his death. When the Daemon detects (via the web) that Sobol has died, it springs into action.
All aficionados of speculative fiction should enjoy Daemon, but computer science and high-tech lovers will especially enjoy how plausible some of the ideas are. For example, the Daemon initially stays below the radar of the government by recruiting from within a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), which skews toward a younger demographic and not older FBI agents. The ideas presented build on the current cutting edge of information science and generally seem plausible. As with much speculative fiction there may be a few gaps in the science but the suspense and brilliant action scenes engage the reader and make up for any rough edges. The overall consensus of the class and my own reading judgement was positive and left many of us looking forward to the continuation of the story in Suarez's more recent novel. Freedom.

Freedom TM (Daemon #2)Continuing the story he started in Daemon Daniel Suarez has written an even better novel of the near future. In a Science Fiction techno-thriller he highlights some of the potential dangers and risks involved in the mix of economic dysfunction and evolving technology that we already are experiencing. Imagining a future that moves in a dystopian direction Suarez creates some of the most vivid good and bad characters to battle with the aid of the next generation of cyber-technology.
Freedom continues the world of Daemon, and suspense builds as it becomes less clear as to the true nature of the Daemon; which players are the most ruthless in changing the world becomes an issue that keeps you on the proverbial edge of your seat. Freedom pushes the concepts of Daemon further into a future in which civilization itself seems to be dissolving with changes that bring its viability into question: members of the guerrilla resistance fight against copyrighted DNA and for sustainable next-generation energy. They also share a private augmented reality. The new members of the “darknet” also share an interesting reputation system and the result of it all is worth the reading trip. Suarez is an author with an imagination that will challenge even veteran readers of speculative literature.

Daemon & Freedom by Daniel Suarez.  


Parrish Lantern said...

Sounds like a great read, which appeals, If you're interested here's a couple of ones that you may like.

The Quantum Thief

How to live safely in a science fictional universe

James said...

Thanks for your comment and recommendations for further reading. I have the novel by Charles Yu on my to-read pile, beside The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth and Doyle's The Sign of Four.