I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Daemon by Daniel Suarez.
If you wanted to warn people about say…a giant swarm of gnats that was going to threaten life as we know it, how would you do that? Would you write a scholarly paper and hope to have it published in the Journal of Tiny Pests? Or would you write a book called SWARM! Revenge of the No-See-Ums and let people know about the hovering menace just beyond their screen door? I know what I would do. (Sci-Fi pardon me SyFy Channel, here I come!)
Fiction is a really good way to get people riled up about things they don’t know they should be scared of yet. Just look at cable news. And if you’re lucky or smart or talented enough to have a real topic with real import, your job is half done. Of course you’d probably better be a pretty good writer. Daniel Suarez has it all working in his favor. He is a good writer and he’s a master of a topic we’re all both interested in and woefully uninformed about. (As usual, when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘I,’ and for ‘interested’ read ‘not really’ and for ‘uninformed’ read ‘my brain is too full of Make Me A Supermodel results to accept any new information.’)
I’m talking about computer security. My laptop knows everything about me, from my buying habits to my credit card numbers to what I’m looking at on YouTube. (None of your business.) (Okay, but that dog that crashes into the wall is comedy gold!) But what do I know about it? Does it secretly hate me and think I’m a moron for updating my Facebook account seventeen times a day? Is it just waiting for a chance to betray me?
In Daemon, Suarez has just nudged the edge of the possible forward a little bit and simply asks us to think about how much we turn over to our little assistants. He’s got some good, thoughtful advice wrapped up in a neat techno-thriller. His cinematic style of writing goes nicely with a plot that largely happens in the wires. And he got us by which I mean me to pay attention.