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Daemon Hardcover – January 8, 2009
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Robin Cook on Daemon
Doctor and author Robin Cook is widely credited with introducing the word "medical" to the thriller genre. Thirty-one years after the publication of his breakthrough novel, Coma, he continues to dominate the category he created, including his most recent bestseller, Foreign Body, which explores a growing trend of medical tourism--first-world citizens traveling to third-world countries for 21st-century surgery.
Daemon is an ambitious novel, which sets out not only to entertain, which it surely does, but also to challenge the reader to consider social issues as broad as the implications of living in a technologically advanced world and whether democracy can survive in such a world.
The storyline portrays one possible world consequent to the development of the technological innovations that we currently live with and the reality that the author, Suarez, imagines will evolve, and it is chilling and tense (on www.thedaemon.com the reader can find evidence that the seemingly incredible advances Suarez proposes could in fact become real). Daemon is filled with multiple scenes involving power displays by the Daemon's allies resulting in complete loss of control by its enemies, violence with new and innovative weaponry, explosions, car crashes, blood, guts, and limbs-cut-off galore.
As far as computer complexity, Daemon will satisfy any computer geek's thirst. I was thankful for Pete Sebeck, the detective in the book whose average-person understanding of computers necessitates an occasional explanation about what is going on. I came away from the novel with a new understanding, respect, and fear of computer capability.
In the end, Suarez invites the reader to enter the "second age of reason," to think about where recent and imminent advances in computer technology are taking us and whether we want to go there. For me, it is this "thinking" aspect of the novel which makes it a particularly fun, satisfying, and significant read.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Originally self-published, Suarez's riveting debut would be a perfect gift for a favorite computer geek or anyone who appreciates thrills, chills and cyber suspense. Gaming genius Matthew Sobol, the 34-year-old head of CyberStorm Entertainment, has just died of brain cancer, but death doesn't stop him from initiating an all-out Internet war against humanity. When the authorities investigate Sobol's mansion in Thousand Oaks, Calif., they find themselves under attack from his empty house, aided by an unmanned Hummer that tears into the cops with staggering ferocity. Sobol's weapon is a daemon, a kind of computer process that not only has taken over many of the world's computer systems but also enlists the help of superintelligent human henchmen willing to carry out his diabolical plan. Complicated jargon abounds, but most complexities are reasonably explained. A final twist that runs counter to expectations will leave readers anxiously awaiting the promised sequel. (Jan.)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Ignore the reviewers' comments about a weak ending to this book. It is actually only part one and needs the reader to follow up with the logical conclusion ("Freedom"). Together they formed the best 'thriller' reading for my summer vacation in a long time.
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.