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.

Movie Review: The Martian

This weekend the Ridley Scott-directed The Martian was released,
reportedly pulling in $55-million in box office receipts.

Based on the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, it is the story of Mark Watney, a botanist and astronaut who is presumed dead and left behind on Mars when his crew is forced to evacuate the planet because of a dust storm.

The book was praised for much of its scientific accuracy, and the film was optioned at nearly the same time the book was picked up by a traditional publishing house.

The film did a great job following the story line from the book and there were only a few deviations from it. A few scenes I enjoyed in the book weren’t included, which is okay because they didn’t alter the story, but I still missed them a little bit.

Because I’m such a big fan of the book, I was interested to get the opinions of my wife and younger son who saw it with me. My wife quipped during the movie that this was “Cast Away on Mars”, but overall she enjoyed it and was glad I brought her to see it. My son said its the best space movie he’s seen.

Definitely recommended.