Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: Daemon

Folks at work were raving about Daemon (kindle edition) when it came out as a self-published novel. Well, a real publisher has picked it up, and turned it into a "real" book now, so I picked it up and read it.

As a thriller, this book has all the hall-marks of a Tom Clancy novel. The characters are wooden, with the ideas being the important part of the book. The plot is fairly straight-forward. A rich tech millionaire dies, and left a distributed-web program living on, executing his vision of the world through the internet. The Daemon goes on a killing spree, and then starts hiring people and using people as part of its distributed network.

The novel is fast-paced and never drags, and as a core idea proposes that with everything being networked nowadays, sooner or later a computer program will come and run mankind, including human institutions such as corporations or even the government. Bits of philosophy are interspersed throughout the book, including the role of corporations, and who really runs the world right now, but it's nothing very deep --- it is a techno-thriller, not a philosophy book --- if you want better philosophy read Richard Morgan. There's a half-hearted attempt at romance, but fortunately the author maintains control of himself and doesn't expect it to carry the book. (The characters are such stereo-types anyway, that you wouldn't care about them --- a good thing, since characters get killed with alarming frequency)

The book does get into all the techno-details that a geek would expect to care about, such as gait-recognition, neuro-testing of candidates (rather than interviewing them), and of course, MMORPGs. If you're a fan of any of these (or consider yourself a geek), just buy this book already --- you'll like it.

My one complaint about this book is that it obviously leaves plot ends open so that a sequel can happen. Given that the book was well-written and I enjoyed it, that's not such a bad thing, but I'll be very annoyed if he does this on every book --- I do want things tied up.

Highly recommended for an accurate portrayal of today's technology (at least from my perspective) and how automation can work, and an interesting plot. Go elsewhere if you want well-developed characters, or a completed plot in one book, but I'm afraid I'm hooked --- Suarez will have me buying his next book.
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