Just finished Daniel Suarez’s Freedom(TM), the sequel to Daemon, which I reviewed here. The story picks up right where Daemon ended, but this book is more of a political story than a gaming and technology story. Like Daemon, this is a fast-paced story and has enough realistic twists to keep you thinking, but as in Daemon there is not a lot of character development. That’s OK. It is still a great story, and I recommend it without qualification. I’ll talk more about the storyline below, and there may be a few plot spoilers, so if you have not read Freedom(TM) you might want to stop here.
In this second book in the series, the Daemon gradually transitions from a malicious force of evil to an apparent force for good as the real bad guys emerge – government contractors! Hey, I have seen enough examples of bad government contractors to know they can be frustrating, but the frustration is usually caused by their ineptness and not their all-powerful competence that puts them in the position of being the real government power.
As Freedom(TM) progresses, the contractors have elevated themselves to positions of power and elected officials and government employees are made irrelevant. I guess that is the reason for the trademark symbol in the title. The major struggle in this story is between the government contractors and the Daemon, which is trying to organize people into small, self-sufficient communities. The idea is these independent communities make society as a whole less vulnerable to a large-scale collapse that can happen when we all depend on large corporations, large government, and large organizations of any type. It’s kind of like An Army of Davids, but it is all being manipulated behind the scenes by a computer program.
For me that is the unsettling part of the story. Self-sufficiency is great, but how independent are people when they are being manipulated by a computer program. The downside to large companies and large government is the people at the top have to make decisions that affect the entire organization, but it is impossible for them to understand all the information they need to make good decisions. Here large government and large companies are being replaced with a large computer program, and I think the Daemon would have all the same problems a large organization would have.
The story ends before we get a chance to see how successful (or not) this type of society would be. I hope Suarez is writing a third book in the series that picks up where Freedom(TM) ends. He has a good imagination, and I would like to see where he would take that.