After hearing praise from my various luminaries like John Robb, Shlok Vaidya, and zenpundit, there’s no way I could not read Daniel Suarez’s Daemon. The tagline reads “Michael Crichton for the information age,” and in virtually all aspects the book lives up to such a lofty claim.
It’s hard to really explain the book (I found myself attempting to do just that to a drunk South African, and coming up short), but as simply as I can: super-brilliant computer genius who’s responsible for two of the best-selling MMORPGs of all time dies. He’s left embedded in the internet a program – the titular DAEMON, or Disk And Execution MONitor – that can respond and react to news items (such as said genius’ death, or the abortive raid on his house). Using the interconnectedness of the global economy, the daemon insinuates itself into daily life, capitalism comes up against the resilient community, etc, etc.
Anyways, if it sounds pretty far-fetched…it will certainly seem so at times. The prose is nothing particularly elegant or lofty, but that’s not why you read a book like this. The concepts, technologies, and overall contours of the plot are entirely engaging, and this is really a ‘page-turner’ in the tradition of Clancy or Crichton, though with a clear contemporary bent. While the story may come across as somewhat apocalyptic, that’s sort of the point – and at this point within the realm of comprehension.
In case the technology and concepts of Daemon are a little too mindblowing for the reader, Suarez has handily thought to include a quick rundown of recommended further reading, including John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, P.W. Singer’s Corporate Warriors, and the ubiquitous Jared Diamond’s Collapse. For the more dedicated skeptic, there’s even a compendium of links at the book’s website directing the reader towards further information on the technologies depicted in Daemon. You can even subscribe to “The Daemon Technology RSS Feed,” which is updated infrequently but with an excellent selection of recent technology links.
In addition to being a great read – it’s always nice to take a break from the really dense stuff and read some fiction – Daemon can also help to understand a lot of the terms being thrown around in the 4GW and milblogosphere, especially in a global economic sense. System vulnerability, swarming and nodes, a global elite class, and 3D printer personal manufacturing all hold a prominent place in Daemon‘s world. Its sequel, Freedom™, deals far more heavily with themes of resilient communities and a new system, but that review will wait for another day. In the meantime, read Daemon right now.