Friday, March 13, 2009

Daemon - Daniel Suarez

Summary: Technology. It controls almost everything in our modern world, from remote entry on our cars and the flight controls of our airplanes to the movements of the entire world economy. Thousands of simple and autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives. Daemons traffic e-mail. Daemons transfer money. Daemons monitor power grids. These daemons are pervasive and, for the most part, benign.

But the same can't aways be said for the people who design them.

Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer--the billionaire architect behind half a dozen popular online games. His premature death depressed millions of gamers around the world. But Sobol's fans are the only ones to note his passing. When is obituary is posted online, a previously dormant daemon activates, initiating a chain of events that may unravel the fabric of the hyper efficient interconnected world Sobol left behind.

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.  (Summary from book -Image from thedaemon.com)

My review: Matthew Sobol, a gaming developer, software genius, and man with a serious God complex, has died from cancer but left behind a legacy—a legacy so dangerous and complex that the entire world is threatened. Before his death, he implanted a Daemon on the internet--an AI program set to carry out his master plan as certain parameters are met. Within a matter of months his Daemon controls people all over the globe, portions of the media, powerful companies, and factions all independent of one another yet completely dependent on the program for their welfare and livelihood. The Daemon and its’ operatives are fully capable and willing to destroying the world through manipulation of the global economy and the creation of civil unrest. Sobol’s ultimate objective isn’t revealed until the end, but to achieve it his program protects those who are loyal and wipes out everything and everyone who stands in its’ way.

Throughout the book, even through to the ending chapters, new characters kept popping up. Most of the book seemed to be a blur of characters identified almost solely by their name, rank, and agency affiliation. The author often introduced a character in the beginning and then shelved him until the end at which time you had completely forgotten the character and how they tied into the story. I never felt any attachment to Detective Peter Sebeck, the main character for a good portion of the book, though a few characters began to stand out towards the end of the book.

Despite some of the books flaws, I went along--I was there through the hacking, techno murders, and computer recruited operatives. I was there through the brain scans, the fully automated house of death, and vocal projection technology-- but eventually, they lost me. I think I was supposed to believe it—that it could happen right now—as the author has stated in interviews, and I did buy it up to a point. I think my line in the sand was somewhere around the alternate web reality, shirts that could detect/control technology, automated homicidal cars, and a global non-entity that controls every technological aspect of the internet and the world. It’s not that I believe that, technologically, these things can’t be done. I don’t know enough about computers to say either way. I’m still reeling from the Qwerty keyboard. However, I harbor serious doubts about the plausibility of one person, genius or not, having the foresight, knowledge, and complete understanding of human behavior that it would take to plot and carry out a plan of this magnitude. Oh, and add to all of that the fact that the word “Sorcerer” was used. At a certain point, it just got absurd.

This storyline would make a FAR better movie than it does a book--a sort of Transformers meets Minority Report. It would be an streamlined, abridged version of the book and obviously the visualization problems would solve themselves. As a book, I have no plans to read it again or continue reading in what is apparently a series. It was all just a bit too much for me.

My rating: 2.75. I tried giving it a 3. It didn't feel right. A hacker might find this story invigorating and give it a 4. I don't know any. Do you? **Violence and Language**

If I could sum this book up in one phrase it would be: Unbelievable--and not in a good way.

2 comments:

Sweet Em said...

I felt the same way about the Clive Custler book I reviewed, if it were a movie all the dumb stuff would be cut out.

Jared said...

Love the book. It very appropriately is told in way that parallels the experience of online gaming and forum interactions. If you haven't had to make a 100 friends in 5 min by their screen and keep track of 5 or 10 you are engaged with at any point in your life, I could see how some of how the book is told would be difficult to follow. I would say the book would appeal to not just hackers but every computer gaming techno savvy 19 to 40 year old I have ever known.

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