Saturday, March 31, 2012

Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez

This past October I read Daniel Suarez's Daemon (my review) about a really smart and really successful (i.e. rich) computer guru who unleashes a daemon (think of it as a massively smart computer virus) on the entire world after his death. The daemon starts recruiting people to implement its plans and targets government and corporate entities that it wants to change (or terminate). But the daemon does its work quietly in the background so there are people who don't know and carry on as before, those who align themselves with the daemon's "dark net", and those who know and fight back.

Daemon, the novel, ended abruptly and unsatisfyingly with a lot of loose ends. After comparing notes with other readers the most plausible explanation was that Suarez' publisher advised the author to take a really long story and split it into two. The second part is Freedom (TM).

If Daemon ended badly, Freedom (TM) continues the downward slide. Imagine World of Warcraft come to life. The daemon gives its chosen followers access to advanced technology so they can start building a better world free from government and corporate interference. You get cool augmented reality glasses that let you see callouts over people and things with all sorts of information to help you navigate the world. At the same time, autonomous motorcycle ninjas slice and dice everyone the daemon doesn't like.

Take a hippie commune from the 1960s and give everyone an iPhone on steroids and this is the daemon's Eden. It's hard not to imagine the two books as an homage to Steve Jobs in the role of the deceased protagonist. I half expected a digital Occupy Cyberspace or We Are the 99%. Government is inept, corporations are evil, blah, blah, blah. 

The augmented reality part of both Daemon and Freedom (TM) and the interconnectedness of modern life are plot ideas worth exploring. By taking out the soapbox, the two novels could've been condensed into one that might have been good all the way through.

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