Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nearly as amazing as the first book in the Duology, Daemon, it leads us right into the middle of an ideological breakdown or a breakthrough, with hoards of Daemon followers playing their lives as if it was all a huge game. And indeed, the way our economics and military and politics is run, it is just that.
So what happens when a game AI successfully outplays our gloriously flawed human nature all in the desire to prevent a total breakdown of our society, as all societies have broken down when our reach outstrips our grasp?
Why, the old-guard, the rich, the staunch governmentalists, and the old idealists band together to take down, impossibly, the background program that had transformed the world. With devastating effect. Civil Wars, corn rebellions, tent cities, and absolute fear of the internet dominates this book.
Oh yeah, and high level wizards (techno-kind) roam the world, having risen high in wealth and real power thanks to the Daemon, and they are truly awesome and rather scary. Sound like a game? Well, it is! But this system of rewards is all in real wealth, real influence, and really awesome tech.
Who do I root for? *waves his wand around*
I won't tell you.
The fact is, this is still very much a techno-thriller to its core, but beyond that, it's super-ambitious and it's also a rather enormous SF undertaking in its own right, from the ideas, the social reform, or from the deeper implications of what it means to be human and so flawed as to have one stupid distributed program be able to outthink us, surprisingly so because it doesn't even have real intelligence!
It's just programmed to manipulate us all really, really well. And I can't say I disagree with it's core purpose, either.
But then, I must quote Robert A Heinlein, "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."
Great book, great conclusion, and I don't even mind the soapbox that the author stood upon. SF is really all about ideas, but this one's a great story, too.
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