If quadcopters can play a James Bond song, it’s not far fetched that tens of thousands of them could become an autonomously controlled weapon controlled by software that simulates the intelligence of weaver ants. Toss in some perfluorocarbon tracers to simulate a pheromone matrix, a bunch of guns, face recognition software, and bad guys and by page 267 about all you can say is “fuck!”
I love Daniel Suarez – I think he may be one of the best “near term science fiction writer” alive today. His previous two books – Daemon and Freedom(TM) were superb, but Kill Decision really nails it and takes you to a much more real, and completely terrifying place. He’s got new characters, better action and dialogue, deep science that is well explained, and very scary scenarios that play out in a “I can’t put this book down” way.
As I’ve said many times recently, the machines have already taken over and are just waiting patiently for us to catch up with them. I’m optimistic about the machines – they won’t emerge in a terrifying terminator future hell bent on exterminating us. Instead, we – the humans – are the problem. We’ve been trying to kill each other since the beginning of time and when the biological (in this case software based on weaver ants) merges with the machines (quadcopters with guns) bad shit happens. And once again the humans created all the bad shit.
As my first book of summer, this was a great place to start. I finished about half of it last night and Amy said I whined in the night with bad dreams, so it did it’s job. Daniel – wow – awesome.
If you read one book in 2009, read Daemon.
It’s unusual for me to recommend a book so early in the year. Daemon is only my fourth book of 2009. It’s a first novel. And it’s mental floss. But it’s as close to flawless for a book of its genre.
I first heard about Daemon in December from Rick Klau. I got to know Rick at FeedBurner; he’s now at Google running Blogger. Rick told me that I had to read this book. He pointed me to a blog post he had written in 2007 about it.
“I can remember the feeling I had, sitting in the audience as the credits rolled after seeing The Matrix on opening day. I knew I’d seen something that was different, important, and something that I’d want to see again. And again. When I finished Daemon this afternoon, I had that same feeling. Daemon is to novels what The Matrix was to movies. It will be how other novels that rely on technology are judged.”
I immediately one-clicked it on Amazon. It wasn’t available for the Kindle so the hardcover showed up a week or so ago. I devoured it this weekend. Rick’s assessment was correct – this is by far the best techno-thriller I’ve ever read.
The author – Daniel Suarez (also known as Leinad Zeraus) describes himself as “an independent systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies … An avid gamer and technologist, he lives in California.” He doesn’t mention that he is a magnificent writer and brilliant storyteller.
I won’t ruin any of it for you. It’s got everything you’d expect in a fast paced book that will appeal to anyone that likes Crichton, Brown, Clancy, or my newfound friend David Stone. The tech holds together well and is completely accessible to non-nerds and nerds alike. It’s a page turner with very little wasted plot or character development. And it sets up the sequel (Freedom) superbly.