Book Review: Daemon by Daniel Suarez

The billionaire CEO of an online game company is dead. Brain cancer. But his death isn’t the end, it is only the beginning. Online, *daemons* – automated computer programs – are waiting to read the headlines announcing CEO Matthew Sobol’s passing. His obituary triggers programs that have infiltrated every corner of our society. Detective Pete Sebek is on the case, but soon he is over his head as the online world ushers in a new world order under the Daemon’s control.

Daniel Suarez’s techno-thriller Daemon is a fast read with a large cast of characters. Some are merely plot devices, engineers added to give a real sense of the distributed work the Daemon requests of its human servants. Others are more significant, from Detective Sebek to the Daemon’s primary mercenary to the cryptographer trying to bring it down.

Those working for the government run the gambit from idealist to special forces to spook. Each character is well-developed with their own reasons and beliefs. Only “The Major” is a cookie-cutter character, but he divulges none of his past nor his mission in this book.

A few prose issues and an occasional typo in the Kindle edition I read didn’t break me out of the story as much as a few over-the-top scenes did. I could see this as an action movie, although a number of the technical details would need to be simplified for the silver screen.

In exploring the technologies of our modern world, and the degree to which everything is interrelated, this novel takes a frightening look at how computers can manipulate markets and how governments seek these powers for themselves. While the Daemon Task Force is trying to bring this system down, The Major ultimately wants to protect the Daemon and use it as a tool for the government. These conflicting goals ratchet up the tension through the book.

I love a good techo-thriller, and I enjoy reading about hackers and spooks almost as much as the post-apocalypse. The book left a lot of open ends I presume will be answered in *Freedom*, the sequel. I give *Daemon* four stars, and will pick up *Freedom* to keep reading in this world.

January 2016 Summary

Writing

I wrote just over 13,000 words in January with an average of 435 words per day. My focus has been on my work-in-progress novel as well as a short story.

Dispossessed is a Battletech short story (still) going through a second draft.

Drone Syndicate (working title) is the novel. I’ve revamped the first act significantly, starting the story even earlier than my original first scene. It’s still in first draft.

I have a post-apocalypse novel idea I’m world-building in right now.

Reading

It’s the end of the first month of 2016, and I haven’t finished a single book yet. I have several in progress, but as far as my goal of 24 books this year, I’m behind schedule.

Deathlands: Devil’s Vortex by James Axler is a pulp men’s fiction series set in the post-nuclear war United States. I’ve been reading (on and off) this series since it debuted in 1986, so it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Rumor has it, this novel is the last in the series as Gold Eagle (an imprint of Harlequin) has folded.

I have Stephen King’s On Writing in my nightstand, slowly reading it as the mood strikes. It’s great advice for writing fiction and I’m savoring the advice given by Mr. King.

Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia by Robert M. Lombardo is a book I’m reading as research for Drone Syndicate. Since Drone Syndicate involves Organized Crime in Chicago… whelp, you know. Research.

Didn’t Finish

I stopped reading Deathlands: Polestar Omega by James Axler. The tricky thing about the Deathlands series is that James Axler is a house name. That means a number of writers pen these novels to varying degrees of skill. Devil’s Vortex has its quirks, but at the helm of Victor Milan, it is solidly written. Polestar Omega was written by Alan Philipson. Unfortunately for Mr. Philipson, his work was not given a good edit, and the frequent typos bothered me. But when a lab-coat-wearing scientist kneed the bad-ass Ryan Cawdor in the genitals “just because” (IMHO), I was no longer able to suspend my disbelief for the story and decided not to read any further.

Film and Television

Hunger Games

My wife and I watched Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Part 1 to catch up on the series. Both were pretty good, although each felt incomplete in their own ways. We’re looking forward to watching Mockingjay, Part 2 soon.

The Expanse

SyFy is going out of its way to create some good content. As much fun as Sharnado was, it wasn’t filling the hole for smart science fiction television.

The Expanse, based on the novel series by James S.A. Corey, is smart. The story is set between Earth, Mars, and mining colonies in our solar system. What I love about this series is its focus on more realistic needs in space. People are affected by growing up in low gravity, they wear magnetic boots to walk in zero-g and the technology they use seems to have been extrapolated in a realistic manner.

I’m excited they’ve renewed the series for a second season already. Nothing worse than the great shows that get canceled after a single season.