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DAEMON (Daemon Series) Paperback – December 29, 2009
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“A chilling yet entirely plausible story of technology gone awry.”—St. Petersburg Times
“Fiendishly clever...an almost perfect guilty-pleasure novel.”—The Dallas Morning News
“A riveting debut.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This thrill-a-nanosecond novel is certainly faithful to the techno-traditions of Michael Crichton and should delight not only readers of the 'science gone awry' genre, but general adventure readers as well.”—Booklist
“Suarez's not-just-for-gamers debut is a stunner.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Greatest. Technothriller. Period. Suarez presents a fascinating account of autonomous logic-based terrorism, incorporating current and anticipated technologies to create a credible and quite clever story.”—William O'Brien, Former Director of Cybersecurity and Communications Policy, The White House
“Daemon is the real deal—a scary look at what can go wrong as we depend increasingly on computer networks.”—Craig Newmark, Founder Craigslist
About the Author
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I stuck with the book for quite a while, and then one day I realized I hadn't opened it for longer than a month... that's when I realized I wasn't going to finish it.
Daniel Suarez’s techno-thriller is a fast read with a large cast of characters. Some are merely plot devices, engineers added to give a real sense of the distributed work the Daemon requests of its human servants. Others are more significant, from Detective Sebek to the Daemon’s primary mercenary to the cryptographer trying to bring it down.
Those working for the government run the gambit from idealist to special forces to spook. Each character is well-developed with their own reasons and beliefs. Only “The Major” is a cookie-cutter character, but he divulges none of his past nor his mission in this book.
A few prose issues and an occasional typo in the Kindle edition I read didn’t break me out of the story as much as a few over-the-top scenes did. I could see this as an action movie, although a number of the technical details would need to be simplified for the silver screen.
In exploring the technologies of our modern world, and the degree to which everything is interrelated, this novel takes a frightening look at how computers can manipulate markets and how governments seek these powers for themselves. While the Daemon Task Force is trying to bring this system down, The Major ultimately wants to protect the Daemon and use it as a tool for the government. These conflicting goals ratchet up the tension through the book.
I love a good techo-thriller, and I enjoy reading about hackers and spooks almost as much as the post-apocalypse. The book left a lot of open ends I presume will be answered in *Freedom*, the sequel. I give *Daemon* four stars, and will pick up *Freedom* to keep reading in this world.
This book reads like a darker, more grounded "Ready Player One", soaked in the modern era rather than the eighties. It asks a lot if the reader, first and foremost to care that bits are agency in our society but also to contemplate the morality of automated decisioning and the abdication of control we often take for granted.
All summed, the story has its cliches and hickups but they are more a comforting spoon of sugar to help swallow the fact that Daemon is, in many ways an allegorical tale of the world we are building. This book is not for you. It is about you. It is about a plausible direction the world we are building could go.
More importantly, it is fun.
Top international reviews
The book was almost foretelling events to come!
The story was interesting and kept me reading, which I found especially impressive as I usually read high/ epic fantasy.
If you are into modern style SciFi and technology novels I do recommend this, even if you aren't this is worth a read or at least a try.
The first three quarters of the book use current-day technology, with a lot of the gadgets, AI scripts and plot devices being very plausible indeed. They're used in refreshingly novel ways too - sci-fan fans will have seen some of the ideas before but there is an abundance of fresh ideas too.
The plausibility can be demonstrated well by some of the predictions already coming true - the recent emergence of Google Glass being an obvious example. Did Suarez invent the concept of augmented reality linked to the web? Of course not, but the use of such devices within the context of this technothriller is smoothly done.
Do you have to be a geek to enjoy this book? I'm pretty sure you don't - but gamers and readers with more than a passing interest in IT are likely to get more out of it. The way Artificial Intelligence is portrayed for example, is dealt with using current state of the art (at least earlier on), rather than the more usual super AIs of sci-fi set further into the future, which is refreshing.
Towards the later chapters, modern-tech takes a back seat and some of the gadgets and powers of the Daemon border on the silly (I can't see the Razorbacks being in any way practical for example) but by this time you're having far too much fun to care. Partly this is because of the exciting and thought provoking plot, but it's helped immeasurably by interesting, amusing and engaging characters.
This is a book that adopts a biting, cynical view of the Western US-centric world, which will either ring very true or potentially offend depending on your sensibilities. Either way, it will make you think, which is always laudable.
By the way, there are no problems with the Kindle formatting. I shouldn't really have to say this, but sadly it's not always the case even with modern books.
I don't know if I will review the sequel, but in case I don't, I'd give that five stars too - favourite characters get even more interesting and the ending is truly satisfying (how often can you say that?!).
The only thing I did not like were the cliches - a lot of the interactions and scenes in the book felt overused already, like pulled out of a boring TV series.
Overall a very interesting concept, realised in a captivating way.
This is a book of two halves and the first is much better than the second. It wasn't until I got close to the end of the book that I realised that the story wasn't going to be concluded in this volume. If you don't like unfinished stories (I don't!) then you'll need to read the sequel.
I enjoyed this story, and I recommend it to computer literate friends. You'll never look at the internet the same way again!
But like I say, a fun read and since I purchased 'Freedom' without realising it was a sequel, I'll see how that goes.
"Daemon" is pacey, packed with ideas and well written. In something like this something has to give and the writing is not great literature. But Jane Austen didn't choose to write about edgy Victorian technology and very few writers (Stephen Fry being an exception) can combine broad technology pacing with plot and character development.
This is one novel which needs a glossary - Suarez uses acronyms without explanation - understandably because to explain would ruin the pacing. But I would love to be able to read it as hypertext with all the key concept words being hot-links in blue like Wikipedia. In many ways it is far too dark and lacks the plurality of US society - to my UK eyes it looks to me like a USA in about 2012 where a member of the Bush family is in the White House and Fox News is the sole media provider. The reality is now different and this colours my appreciation of the risks and threats outlined in the book.
But don't let that put you off. There are very real threats posed to the computer systems upon which we all depend by the development of narrow artificial intelligence. And this book lands you straight up in the risks. Every few minutes I was saying to myself - "Ridiculous - that could not happen!". And then thinking a bit more about it I started to wonder whether it was so ridiculous. Most of the stuff happening in real time was unworkable and would hopefully always remain so. But processes which could go on behind the scenes without any time constraints I began to feel were dangerously plausible. A scene where one actor has to take apart a hotel booking system for fear that it would identify him to the Daemon seemed quite possible.
This is a fun read - just right for a holiday trip or a long flight. I hope by the time the author produces a reprint for the UK market he will prepare a further reading list which covers some of the British books about the technologies and themes.
I understand that there is to be a sequel. And the author has landed a movie deal. Pretty good for something which started out as self-publishing and word of mouth publicity. Read it and enjoy it.
Whilst some of the scenarios may at first appear far-fetched, every single device that features in the plot is either already in existence or about to emerge. I must say that I had a problem with the autonomous motorbikes, thinking that these were a bit unlikely. But then I spotted a news story that Google have them in development alongside their driverless cars.
Nothing, it seems, is impossible or beyond belief. And if that's true, then we all need to worry. Today's fiction could so easily become tomorrow's fact.
Most of the other not so great reviews all have a point - yes there is at least one character which is developed and then disappear, but i really didnt care as I felt they were interesting while they were there. Yes it leaves you hanging at the end - but then that's what the final book, FreedomTM finishes. Is it a classic tome? No. Is it a nicely IT conceptualised engaging page turner? Yes.
I work in IT and many of the IT technical descriptions are sound in basis, and that's what probably increased my enjoyment of the book - Suarez outlines the techie bits in a more natural way and weaves them into the challenges faced by the characters than other 'IT-consultant-turned-author's do. You never feel like you've suddenly picked up an O'Reilly computer manual by mistake half way through a chapter. Really enjoyed it, Freedom TM is great too.
There's plenty of technical detail in it, and to be honest this was my main complaint. While the author has clearly done some research, the descriptions of network attacks are subtly inaccurate in places (for example, no self respecting hacker would use Netstumbler, they'd be using Aircrack or Kismet). Still, this is a minor moan and despite comments from some other reviewers there's not a huge amount of jargon sequences in the book.
My other complaint is that this is a book clearly written with a sequel (or two) in mind, and came to a rather abrupt and dissatisfying end.
Still, well worth a read and a very novel (pardon the pun) addition to the genre.