These books are the future. I loved them and really hope Daniel Suarez writes more set in this awesomely utopian/dystopian thriller tech world. Damn, they resonated with my world view and my ideas of human tubes and human plus so much. All kinds of stuff I’ve been thinking about and enjoying got incorporated and stepped up to the next level; extra senses, MMORPG’s, blurring reality and augmented reality, along with plenty of butt-kicking bad-assery.
Better than Dan Brown?
Basically, yes. The writing itself may or not be better than Dan Brown- they’re written as thrillers and have a thriller’s breakneck pace, but who cares about that when the ideas are so damn rich, and so beautifully enervated. Each time the daemon iterates I’m left thinking- what could possibly happen next? Then something doubly awesome happens and I get jolted to the same new/old realization all over again- this is fantastic, and this could really happen now.
It’s hard to say much about either book without giving away major spoilers, but I’ll try.
It’s the story of a daemon. A daemon is a specially programmed AI hanging out on the Internet somewhere, designed to be triggered and take action when certain events occur. In this case, the daemon was designed by a millionnaire genius game designer, architect of several major game worlds similar to Warcraft and Call of Duty, who didn’t like the way modern civilization was headed and decided to wrench it in a new direction. Before the book even begins he dies of brain cancer, and news of his death triggers the daemon to start.
And it starts with violence. It is born in blood, as automatic vehicles and bleeding edge tech security systems cause a massacre on his estate, all driven by the same AI programs he used in his first person shooter games, operating in the real world via 3-D world maps and smart sensors.
Ideas ** MILD SPOILERS **
Wow. Right? The thought of birthing computer AI from video games into the real world is stunning, but seemingly utterly doable. Suarez has synthesized a whole raft of great ideas into this story, and pushed them to their limits. Google Maps and others like it are becoming increasingly sophisticated, communicating more and more with GPS systems in our cars, our phones, our laptops. Cars like the Ford Sync operate on voice commands, while others will parallel park at the touch of a button, others will take over the steering to avoid crashes.
Once these two amoebic tendrils overlap- 3D real world maps with cars’ ability to ‘see’ the road, we’ll be at a stage where AI really could take over a vehicle and do whatever it wanted to with it. We’re tempted to say- Skynet! but this just feels far more real than Skynet, because now most of the tech and infrastructure is in place for it to really happen. Not with ambulatory robots like the T-800 sure, but it could happen tomorrow with cars or bikes if someone put enough money into it.
That’s how daemon begins, and Freedom tm takes it to a whole new level. I can hardly even hint at what happens in the second without giving too much away. At the beginning I sat down to read it and had absolutely no idea where the story would go. None at all. But it went plenty of places, all of them as rich and well thought out as the first book, if not more so.
It’s the ideas that make Suarez so much better than Dan Brown. In fact it’s hardly fair to even compare them, since Suarez’s books are more akin to Asimov’s Foundation series- keenly imagined future worlds manipulated by a genius from the past, but with all the techno-thriller drive remaining to push the world forwards, with ultra-real ideas as the fuel. Suarez does far more than have a single hero whip around a city looking for hidden answers. He invents, reinvents, and reconstructs whole societies.
I could go on about it way more, but I’d only be repeating all the awesome stuff the books do, and that wouldn’t be right. Suffice it to say you should read them, and you’ll love them. At points I was pumping the air with my fists, at one point I was nearly brought to tears (not because something was too sad, but because it was just too awesome and positive about the human spirit), at others I was shuddering, and always I was intellectually challenged.
Excellent books, must read if you live in the 21st century. The world he shows is where we’re headed.