Completed 1/8/2017 Reviewed 1/9/2017
This book is a high-tech thriller about a computer application that threatens to take over the world. A daemon is an application that runs in the background and performs a function without human intervention when certain conditions are met. In this story, the daemon waits to see the online obituary of its creator, Matthew Sobol. Once seen, it begins a process of recruiting disenfranchised computer hackers and gamers and penetrating corporate networks to create a new world order. It’s a fast-paced book which I nearly found exciting. However, I couldn’t completely engage with it, leaving me feeling rather empty for having read over 400 hardcover pages of it.
The book is kind of an ensemble piece. There are a fair number of relatively main characters. The narrative jumps between them and a lot of other minor characters, some of which only exist for a chapter or two. The book reads very much like a movie script, with lots of jumping between scenes with changing points of view. At least it shows you what’s going on rather than discussing it in long exposition scenes. However, there are a fair number of scenes where the computer technology is explained, making this a relatively hard science fiction book.
It reminded me of the early ‘70s film, “Colossus: The Forbin Project”. That film was about two computers, one in the US and one in the USSR, which sync and take over the world. In this book, rather than two mainframes, the means of world control comes through the internet. It happens insidiously. The daemon is distributed all over the internet, emulating a MMORPG, i.e. a massive multiuser online role playing game. In fact, the daemon’s creator is also the creator of the two most successful MMORPGs in history.
The concept is quite masterful, but the book left me tepid. The characterization was mediocre. Most of the characters had little depth. They were there simply for the plot. For some reason, I was really aware of the Bechdel test. There were a few women characters, but no two of them talked to each other. In fact, one of the few times a woman appears in the story, it’s to demonstrate how deplorable one of the main bad guy characters is. She is given a drug to reduce her inhibitions at a dance club. The scene is pretty awful.
I give this book three out of five stars. It’s readable, but just didn’t have anything for me to grab onto and no characters to identify with. It plays out a lot like an action movie and the premise is really good and scary. I put this book in the category of fluff. Hard fluff, as some of the technobabble gets quite intense at times. This was a book for my s.f. book club, and some people loved it, some thought it was meh, nobody hated it. I didn’t hate it, I just found it lacking.