October 23, 2009

Technology Gone Mad: A Review Of Daemon

While enjoying a nice, adult beverage and evening of conversation with a friend (other details to be found in this podcast), we began talking about reading. My friend had mentioned a book that had a really good science fiction premise, but was taken from a great deal of real-world science.

The book is Daemon, currently in hardcover and available in paperback at the end of the year. After a well-known computer genius passes away, a small bit of software becomes active, searching for news and information. Pretty soon, things begin happening, people begin dying, and the world becomes a slightly more threatening place.

What makes the book work is that much of it is based on current technology and research - in fact, the official site provides a great deal of information and background. There's enough smart, sharp storytelling that makes it an instant page-turner, and that also makes reading it incredibly addictive. Even though one reviewer compared it to early Tom Clancy, for me it reads more like a Joss Whedon project for HBO - there's simplicity in rendering the philosophical and technological implications, but not enough to hinder the story.

In fact, at times the story can be too simple, and that's one of the major drawbacks of the book. Initially self-published and promoted to bloggers, there's a sense that Suarez should have edited the book between that initial self-publishing and finding a formal publisher. Scenes often end abruptly, characters drop out without any further mention, a conceit which starts certain chapters takes awhile to understand, and without spoiling, there seems to be a chapter or two missing at the end.

Although it's not a perfect book, Daniel Suarez has written an extremely accessible science fiction novel - one that resembles, at its heart, a graphic novel called The Surrogates, integrating a lot of high-end ideas into a unique narrative. It may not be a perfect book, but whether you're interested in gaming, social media...or just looking for a good, gripping read, it wouldn't hurt to dive out of graphic literature and give Daemon a try.

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