By Deane Barker on January 20, 2010

daemon I don’t read much fiction.  Maybe one novel a year.  But I was intrigued to see this novel recommended by Kevin Kelly over in Cool Tools.  I’ve had the post saved in Google Reader ever since, thinking “I’d like to read that someday…”

Well, “someday” came in the form of a Barnes and Nobel gift card for Christmas which I was determined to spend on myself (read: no books for work).

Matthew Sobol, a brilliant computer game designer, dies young from brain cancer.  Then other people start dying.  Soon, it becomes obvious that Sobol left behind a legacy in code – a daemon that self-replicates, is aware of the responses to its actions (via RSS, no less), and uses video games to recruit real-life humans to its cause.

What starts as a somewhat reality-based techno-thriller gets more and more fantastic by the chapter and drifts into the most awesome question ever: what if the whole world was one big MMORPG? If World of Warcraft leaked into the real-world, what would that look like?

Maybe like the book’s tag line:

Everything is under control.  Everything.

Daemon” is amazing, especially for geeks.  In most geek-targeted books, you have an uncanny valley of credibility.  Most authors generally seem credible until they make like Icarus and try too hard, and then we suddenly have a “a GUI interface using Visual Basic” to try and track an IP address.

But Daniel Suarez is one of us.  Before writing “Daemon” (his first novel), he was an enterprise software consultant.  There’s not a whiff of artifice in it.  When one character makes a SQL injection hack (complete with SQL), I knew I was in love.  There’s not one geek misstep in there – everything rings utterly true.

The entire book is a gas.  I couldn’t put it down.  What’s amazing is that he wrote it in 2006, and had to self-publish it.  But it got a following, and word-of-mouth got around — the acknowledgements reads like a who’s who of the tech set.  It finally got picked up and was re-published in 2008.

Suarez just released the follow-up: “Freedom.”

Even better – Paramount Pictures just picked up the movie rights.  My heart just skipped a beat.  Who are they gonna get to play Merritt?  The Major?  Sebeck?  Ross?

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  1. Indeed a great book. A friend of mine gave it to me randomly (when it was published under the name pseudonym Leinad Zeraus). I actually at the time couldn’t figure out if I really loved it or if it was cheesy. It was definitely a page turner and in the end I think that the guy has the right creds and wrote an engaging and “accurate” (within its context) book.

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