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Review: Daniel Suarez's debut 'Daemon' paints a sinister tale of cyberterrorism

As our reliance on technology — especially computers — increases, so too does our vulnerability to system failures, corrupted networks, ambitious hackers, identity theft and other undesirable byproducts of the digital age.

In Daemon, Daniel Suarez's rapid-fire debut novel, the author raises the stakes to catastrophic levels, penetrating the shady world of cyberterrorism to reveal a chilling yet entirely plausible scenario of technology gone awry.

Before his death from cancer, Matthew Sobol, a computer systems genius and founder of the CyberStorm Entertainment video-gaming empire, sets in motion a complex network of computer programs that methodically infects nearly every sector of the Internet. His plan is based on a daemon, a computer program that runs in the background and executes tasks at appointed times or in response to certain events. By scanning news outlets, Sobol's daemon is triggered by his obituary.

Sweeping rapidly across cyberspace — enabled in part by a worldwide network of tech-savvy, largely disaffected gamers connected through CyberStorm's uber-popular shooter game, Over the Rhine — the daemon begins to reveal Sobol's shocking intent: to level the playing field in the global struggle for power. Infiltrating the networks of strategically chosen megacorporations and government agencies, the daemon takes control of highly sensitive, valuable information. It leaves violent deaths and ruined lives in its wake, sparking a worldwide race to stop, or at least contain, it.

Suarez, a systems consultant and designer of software for the defense and finance industries, is entirely at ease with his subject. Originally self-published in 2006, Daemon should now reach a much larger audience, and deservedly so. The film rights sold to Walter Parkes at DreamWorks. The producer of blockbusters including Men in Black, Gladiator and Minority Report, he's a solid choice for Suarez's sinister, propulsive story.

Eric Liebetrau is an editor at Kirkus Reviews.

Daemon

By Daniel Suarez

Dutton, 448 pages, $25.95

Review: Daniel Suarez's debut 'Daemon' paints a sinister tale of cyberterrorism 01/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 1:31pm]

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