on 20 January 2010
This is a direct sequel to the earlier thriller Daemon, which postulated a computer program set to respond to real world events and via access to most of the world's corporation's financial data, obtained a lock-hold on them and the global economy. Reading the earlier book is, I think, a prerequisite to this book; most of the background for various characters appears in the earlier book, along with the details of how the Daemon operates, and trying to decode this book without that information would be at least confusing and probably lead to missing some important points of this book.
This book, while still very much action-oriented and with quite a gore-quotient, delves much deeper into the consequences of today's globally interconnected information flow and how disruption of that could cause an economic and political melt-down. Given the assumptions this book starts with, Suarez makes these consequences both very visible and quite believable. In addition, he adds a new level in this book, which only played a side-role in the earlier book, on the growing possibility of massive role-playing gaming becoming an economy of its own that has real-world impacts. To some degree this is already happening, as some on-line games' currency and artifacts are being bid and traded for in real-world equivalents. He also brings in the concept of on-line social reputation as a credit marker and the use of that to bring large numbers of resources to bear on particular problems in very short time periods, all adding to the believability of the plot line. However, there were a couple of places where I wondered about the true economic viability of some the projects started by such groups, even when the technology for them is sound and already out of the laboratory.
In general, I felt this was a better book than Daemon, partly due to the various items listed above that added a lot to the overall believability of the scenario, and also due to the change in the Daemon itself, now showing itself to not just be a vehicle for revenge but having much higher goals that make some of its actions at least have a decent rationale behind them. The action is still very much fast-paced and the characters remain true to their core values. The presentation of philosophical points about just what constitutes freedom and how humans organize themselves as governments and economic units adds to this, lifting it beyond the sheer 'thriller' category into something with substance. The only real negative I found with this book was single-sided characterization of those in current power, who as shown here will do absolutely anything to retain their current status. As no one is completely black or white, this struck something of a false note with me.
An engrossing read with a lot of scare factor, but needed better, more realistic 'bad guys' to reach top-flight status.
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
Freedom continues where Daemon left off, with the computer program Daemon building a new society. Freedom ups the ante on Daemon from the beginning with grander action sequences and fleshing out the heroes and villains of the story. Suarez appeases his fans of science fiction and fantasy with a plot in which the uprising new culture is firmly rooted in a world mirroring Massively Multiplayer games. The hero has a quest - and a glowing line in his HUD that only he can see, leading him to where he is required. Those who use the darknet have floating names and levels above their heads. It's all very World of Warcraft, EverQuest etc. With the millions of players now participating in such games, Suarez's readership is sizeable and those who have played such games will get more from reading this work.
There's non-gaming future-tech in there too and at times the speculative future seems very plausible and threatening. This is sharp and dirty warfare and subsequently the feel to Freedom is more action orientated and more accessible than the first entry. At times Freedom does become complicated as it tries to ensure the reader cannot predict how the plot will develop, hindered further by the myriad of characters, some with little reintroduction from Daemon. Those small points aside, Freedom remains a well conceived piece of near-future fiction, a thriller worth investing time in.
on 20 August 2010
Well I'm only half-way through this, but I really look forward to settling down in the evenings with it. You should definitely read Daemon first, because a lot of the events in that explain stuff in this, especially to justify (and thus provide depth to) characters' strengths/weaknesses and how they perceive events around them. The story is more complex than simply having 'good' guys and 'bad' guys, reflecting the different motives of individuals, groups and states involved. It ties in nicely with the recent economic wobbles, and you find yourself switching allegiances between characters as the plot twists and turns.
Admittedly, the 2nd half may turn out to be more action than drama, but the plot is building so well that it's probably justified.
Mr Suarez, if you'll just sit down at your computer and get cracking, we'll call it a trilogy, shall we?! :-)
Roll on the Daemon movie in 2012!
on 28 May 2015
Freedom™ is a direct continuation of the themes begun in the author's debut novel, Daemon, and reading that title first is essential. Once again, the cast are all players in the world-changing plans set in motion by deceased on-line game guru, Matthew Sobol. The character continues to appear periodically as an avatar, reacting to events in the manner of what gamers know as an NPC; non-player character. In other words, the author resists any temptation he may have had to resurrect Sobol as a ghost in the machine, and always makes it clear that any thoughts or actions attributed to him are of the pre-recorded kind. Neither does Sobol's Daemon achieve any kind of unrealistic sentience. Indeed, one of the great strengths of the book is the restraint shown, creating an engrossing, fast-paced tale of speculative fiction, which occasionally veers close to the edge of credibility but never falls over. It's a tricky balance that Daniel Suarez manages with aplomb.
As the story opens, the Daemon has the upper hand in global commerce, and is facilitating the rise of Darknet communities across the world. These are run by tech savvy folks who want to rebuild civilization from the ground up, using sustainable methods for the production of food and energy, and manufacturing locally. An interesting slant on democracy comes from the way majority decisions are reached; the entire interaction of Darknet members, locally and across the connected world, is influenced by personal standing. Reputations are displayed in D-Space for all to see, and people react accordingly. It's an element taken from on-line gaming, and made to work in a real world setting. For now, Suarez avoids the thorny issue of rogue Darknet members deliberately hacking their own stats, the system, etc., but that may be dealt with in a future adventure. This time around the focus is on what the powerful elites of the world are doing to combat the Daemon, as they assemble private armies and concoct murderous strategies to snatch back power. A major part of this -- overseen by a character called the Major -- is to begin a civil war within the United States, against Darknet communities, which are branded as terrorist factions by the state controlled media. The ruthlessness and brutality with which the old guard tries to reclaim its influence is something that the author depicts very realistically, at times using graphic violence. Running alongside the vast and sweeping changes wrought by this enforced information revolution, is the story of former detective Pete Sebeck, now the Unnamed One, and on a quest imposed by the Daemon. His purpose is to determine whether humanity is worthy of being allowed its freedom.
IT specialist Jon Ross, cryptography expert Natalie Phillips, Loki Stormbinger and even a version of Roy Merrit, are all back for more, and dabbling with the kind of tech guaranteed to make any fan of near future gadgetry drool. In most cases the character development was less than I'd hoped for, yet sufficient, due to the fact that, as with Daemon, the story is the true star. Most intriguing, for me, was what Suarez does with his infamous, advanced AI character, SS officer Heinrich Boerner, which blurs the line between true sentience and mere code. Ultimately, whether someone like Sobol and his Daemon could actually set in motion a seismic shift in the global economy and social structure, is debatable. But as the author demonstrates, it is not beyond possibility. Indeed, it might be argued that what is depicted could form the basis of a new world order run by the masses. Whether humanity is able to lead itself is another open question. Back in grubby reality the geeks may not quite be ready to inherit the Earth, but Suarez shows that they could be our best hope against corporate enslavement. Freedom™ and its predecessor are not a blueprint for techno revolution, but they do provide abundant food for thought, cracking entertainment, and a glittering view of what might be the shape of things to come.
on 21 February 2015
A short while ago, I read Daniel Suarez’s debut novel “Daemon”, which was a gripping technological thriller. It may not have been a terribly original idea, but it was well written if a little lacking in character building and it did seem to end a little abruptly. The reason for this abrupt end now becomes clear, as there is now a sequel, ‘’Freedom™’’
The computer daemon unleashed by Matthew Sobol in ‘’Daemon’’ has expanded into a whole darknet community. Whole towns are now part of the darknet and are building and working in ways suggested by the daemon, seeking true independence from the Government and any influence outside the darknet. They are assisted by Loki and his army of razorbacks, who are seeking those who most want to destroy the daemon.
Meanwhile, the Government is not happy with the increasing influence of the daemon. Agent Phillips is still trying to crack the code that will destroy it and The Major is looking to destroy the communities with more violent means. Meanwhile Jon Ross has become part of the darknet and Pete Sebeck is on a daemon inspired quest to see if humanity needs to be saved inside the daemon, or if it could possibly have the same quality of life without it.
Once again, this is a very fast moving novel, switching from darknet to those trying to stop it with sometimes dizzying frequency, but keeping both sides of the story going well enough to want to keep reading. With much of the background to the daemon covered in the earlier novel, there is no need for story or character building here and Suarez concentrates solely on the action side of things. Whilst this does mean this works less effectively as a standalone novel, it does keep the pace high.
This does have a slight downside in that some aspects that could have done with a little more detail did get skimmed over a little. Personally, I would have liked to have known more about how the darknet communities came into being, in much the same way as ‘’Daemon’’ showed how the people who were originally called to serve the daemon came to their calling. There were several mentions of the use of a function Magnetic Resonance Imaging technique which, although shown once, was mentioned rather than explored.
The high pace did seem to take some of the novelty of the ideas away. Loki spends most of his time hunting down The Major and when he thinks he’s found him, he sends in a squadron of specially converted motorbikes called razorbacks. When these first appeared at the end of ‘’Daemon’’, they were a great and novel idea, but here they appear so often that they soon get a little boring.
That is not to say that Suarez has run out of ideas completely. Some of the tricks that The Major use to try and infiltrate the darknet and capture senior members of it are quite clever. The ways they obtain certain things from these people are inventive, if a little disturbing at points. The whole character of Roy Merritt this time around is also a superb piece of imagination, as are some of the new darknet items of weaponry.
It was perhaps slightly naive of me to think that the level of amazement and invention Daniel Suarez showed in ‘’Daemon’’ could be continued into ‘’Freedom™’’. However, there is still room for plenty of ideas here and the two books work together very well and the story arc is perfectly set over the two books. On balance, I preferred the first book of the two, but this still has enough about it to be well worth a read, especially for fans of technical thrillers and Suarez’s debut in particular.
If you’ve read Suarez’s first novel, or something like John McLaren’s “Press Send”, it’s well worth looking into ‘’Freedom ™’’, as it is a book full of invention and certainly worth a look.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
on 29 October 2012
I've heard some people say that Daemon and Freedom are full of errors typical of a novice author, which may well be, but takes nothing away from my enjoyment if so.
I appreciate the way the book takes no time to explain to me what DNS is, or what online gaming is. I am expected to understand basic computing and networking. This means the story feels written for an audience who understand the concepts of the book and how realistic they could be.
The story is bloody and violent, technical and detailed, interesting and thought provoking about the potential future we are heading towards with such a focus on technology and capitalism driving us.
I'm often not able to get into these books, but this author had hooked me from chapter 2 of Daemon. What he described as 40,000 dollar HUD glasses in 2006 are the Google Glass of next year. Most topics in the book appear to have been researched, based on real world developing technologies and then extrapolated to their logical end. And frequently the predictions in the book are modern day consumer products at this point.
If Kill Decision is anything as accurate as these books have been, we are facing trouble. But I love that thought.
on 26 March 2014
The world needs more people bringing the knowledge of the lack of self-control the World's population have over the lives to them. America where this science fiction book was set has a huge population, and that population is being brain-washed by their Government, through the control of the media, and the NSA, their big Pharmaceutical companies through the Advertising they spend to sell their poisons, their Food Industry where no regard for the health and fitness of the population is taken as long the profits keep coming in, through Government levies to grow even more corn, and their total disregard for animals.
Although Science Fiction, the big Cash Hungry Corporations have the power, the greed and brain dead thugs to do their will, are already controlling the Two Houses of Government through lobbying, or another way of putting it, bribing representatives of the Houses. Read the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, this book is non-fiction.
Is this scaremongery, I don't think so.
on 7 April 2014
This is, in effect, part 2 of Daemon. It challenges some of the ideas I had developed in the first book, about what internet security means, about how the future might work, about the capacity of humans to adapt and use technology. I've read a few books where characters end up 'in' a video game; this is an entirely different and more stimulating level. I'm not a geek, my boyfriend is and he recommended the novels. I had no trouble following the ideas, though. In this one, it was all slightly more spelled out and even repeated - perhaps the editor felt that Daemon was too niche. It does help that I've played a few video games, but anyone interested in ideas of multi-nationals, where the internet might take us, genetically modified crops and a good old bloody thriller would enjoy it. It is asking for a movie adaptation!
on 21 July 2014
I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars but had to choose 4. The sequel or continuation of his daemon novel, this book picks up where the previous one left, so it wouldn't be worth reading (in my opinion) without reading the first!
As this book went on I found myself changing sides and seeing the daemon as force for positive change rather than the destructive virus left behind by a computer programming genius. Of course the book is still a little far fetched in places, and there are a few scenes (as the first book) that contain some quite graphic violence.
I found that whilst I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first, I had to keep reading to see where it ended. For that reason I'd recommend this book to my friends
on 21 September 2011
You need to read Daemon first to make any sense of this and it suffers from the fate of all sequels in that he had to put quite a lot of the backstory into the early chapters just in case readers had either forgotten or were coming to the book without reading Daemon. I was disappointed by this but stuck with it and glad I did because once it gets going it's a worthy sequel to the earlier book. Assume for a minute that an alternative internet money system did start to thrive - who would be threatened by this? What would happen to the idea of Nations? What would happen to the idea of Corporations? Who would champion these new systems and who would want to stop them? You can read this book as a straight thriller and it works well but he has woven in enough depth to cause you to question many of the basic assumptions about levers of power and how we are arranging our world at the moment. So, a slow start but a satisfying feast and he skilfully ties up the remaining plot points right to the last page. A good read - I wonder how much of it might come true?