2010 Hardcover edition
|January 7, 2010|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
Freedom™, the sequel to Daemon, is the second of a two-part novel by the author Daniel Suarez about a distributed, persistent computer application, known as The Daemon, that begins to change the real world after the original programmer's death.
The sequel picks up shortly after the end of Daemon. Sobol's distributed AI has already infiltrated the computer systems of numerous companies and governments. Many companies have surrendered out of fear of annihilation or because they have been converted to the more fair and efficient system. While the Daemon is a technological creation, much of the work is carried out by human beings - compelled by the Daemon to change the world according to the vision of Matthew Sobol.
Connected by the "Darknet", these human followers using Sobol's game engine (for his award winning game "The Gate") as a base, have created their own ranking system and economy. Online identities mimic an MMORPG with operatives doing tasks to gain levels and gaining access to new technologies and help from the Daemon in an effort to advance their communities. Numerous towns have slowly joined the Daemon's network as a means to improve their own situations and their society as a whole.
The rest of the world believes the Daemon is still a hoax, due to the efforts of the U.S. Government (and her allies) to appear to the general public that they are still in charge. In truth the American political and economic system is collapsing, with the price of fuel and the unemployment rates both skyrocketing.
As with the first book, the interweaving stories follows specific characters:
Detective Sebeck, now acting as an unwilling Daemon operative, has been sent on a "quest" by the avatar of the late Matthew Sobol, one in which will to determine the role of freedom to the human race. Using special glasses that allows the wearer to see online Darknet items and threads, Sebeck is joined by a Daemon operative named Laney Price and he soon learns that his quest is being monitored by the entire Darknet community.
Sebeck begins his quest meeting another operative named Riley, who introduces him to the newly growing Daemon communities (dubbed Holons) which are based on being self sufficient, using natural energy sources and technologies, and avoiding the military-industrial complex that is opposed to the type of freedom the Daemon communities want. Riley teaches Sebeck how to navigate the Darknet and use it to his advantage. With Laney in tow, Sebeck journeys around the country always witnessing important events in the history of the Daemon. Sebeck reunites with Jon in a town called Greely.
Greely, Iowa is one of several Midwestern towns chosen by the elite powers for invasion and destruction, Sebeck's Darknet quest thread returns. Sebeck slips past the enemy lines only to discover that it is a trap laid by the Major. The Major has developed a means of infiltrating the Daemon mainframe and make slight alterations. Sebeck and Laney are taken to the Sky Ranch, but rescued by Daemon operatives on a final push to defeat the Major.
Once the Daemon has defeated his enemies Sebeck resumes his quest and travels to Morgan's Point Cemetery in Texas. The 3D avatar of Mathew Sobol reveals his intentions and desires for a world where all are equal. Having seen both sides, and the war that followed Sebeck makes the choice that the Daemon is not a threat and allows the world now forming to exist. Then Sebeck is rewarded with an online message from his son Chris, who forgives him for all that has happened and Sebeck happily heads home to be reunited with his family.
Jon Ross, fearing both the established authority and the actions of people like Loki has joined the Daemon community to help shape it into a thing for good. He travels to China to recruit an old friend (and former spy) Shen Liang, but Liang refuses to believe that the Daemon network is real. Using Daemon technology that cloaks his image on CCTV cameras, Ross escapes before he can be taken into custody. Ross attempts to convince Natalie Phillips to join the Daemon community but she rebuffs him. Ross then heads to Greely, meeting Hank Fossen, awaiting Sebeck's approach. The reunion is short lived when they learn that Greely is surrounded by anti-Daemon forces.
Aiding the Greely Sheriff and Hank to defend the town, they push back the invasion. Ross then travels to the Sky Ranch to rescue Natalie Phillips from a vengeful Loki. After Loki is talked down, he and Natalie join Sebeck in the last leg of his quest, preparing for a life together.
At the funeral for Roy Merritt, NSA Agent Natalie Philips is approached by Loki who informs her that the Daemon operatives attending are there to honor his memory. Merritt has become a folk hero of the Darknet, known as "The Burning Man" by the Darknet users, who respect him for his tenacity. Loki tries to show her that she's working for the wrong side, but instead she attempts to warn the authorities. Loki, in response, attacks a number of funeral attendants, but only members of the private military contractor employed by the Major, Korr Security International.
Following the funeral Phillips is made a scapegoat and relieved of her duties at the NSA. Ross attempts to convince her to join the Daemon community, but she refuses. Phillips has a plan to stop the government from taking control of the Daemon by destroying it. To that effect Phillips allows herself to be recruited by the Major and a man named General Johnston. Flown to the Sky Ranch, the remaining base of operations for the ani-Daemon forces, Phillips is informed of their plan to seize control of the Daemon, in a world-wide operation code named Exorcist.
With the defeat of the General's offensive against the Daemon communities, Phillips is reunited with Ross and together they realize that Johnston's true plan is to allow most of the world's corporations to be destroyed by the Daemon, (while protecting their own assets) using the inevitable chaos to seize control of key facilities around the globe and declare a new world order with them in control. Instead they watch as the Daemon outsmarts Johnston's forces. Declaring her love for Ross, together they head off with Sebeck to witness him finish his quest and prepare for their future together.
Brian Gragg aka "Loki Stormbringer" is the most powerful Daemon operative. Working alone, with a contingent of Razorbacks and other weapons, he travels America looking for the Major. Though he is well known, his rankings is low for his anti-social behavior and rude, spiteful disposition. His only ally is the 3D Avatar of the game character Boerner, a Nazi soldier whom he defeated to gain the attention of the Daemon in the first place. Boerner, due to Loki's extremely high power level, offers to become his ally. Offering to commit any act, order or request activated by any pre-destined event decided by Loki. Including revenge if Loki were to be killed. Loki quickly accepts the offer.
An attempt to kill the Major fails, but eventually he gains a lead that allows Loki to track the Major to a raodside motel. He finds a fellow Daemon operative a prisoner, (the girl is bound, gagged and nude; Loki notes this is his favorite position for a woman revealing his misogynistic sociopathy) but she is merely bait for a trap. The Major manages to drug and capture Loki.
Loki is later stripped nude and systematically tortured and removed from the Daemon's network. All biometric markers are cut off including his tongue, eyes and finger tips. Loki's left alive and eventually rescued by Boerner. Loki, a mere shell of what he once was, sets off to kill the Major. His eyes have been replaced with cameras, his ability to speak now using the Hypersonic system and his fingers titanium prosthetics. He rescues Sebeck from being killed, then uses his +60 power level to dispatch the largest army of AutoM8's and Razorbacks to level Sky Ranch.
Defeating the perimeter guard, his brutal assault on everyone at the Sky Ranch (including civilians) incurs the ire of the entire Daemon community and the 3D Avatar of Roy Merritt de-levels him. Loki, emotionally ruined, collapses and his fellow Daemon members reach out to help him.
Hank Fossen is a third generation farmer from Greely, Iowa who is recruited into the Daemon network by his daughter Jenna. Fighting a nuisance lawsuit against a company Halperin Organix, which has been illegally planting seeds on his property to create patent violations. Hank learns of Jenna's participation with a suspicious group in town. Jenna reveals the concept of the Daemon to Hank and promises that Halperin Organix's lawsuit will be dismissed now that they have gained "level 4 legal protection."
An assault on their farm by hired mercenaries is thwarted by Ross and other Daemon operatives, but upon learning about the impeding assault on Greely, Hank sends Jenna and his wife to a pre-determined shelter and then tries to help make a stand with Ross and the local Sheriff. Hank is shot and killed in the assault, but his sacrifice is not in vain. Using a community created 3D Avatar of Roy Merritt to coordinate a counter-attack, the holon of Greely is able to defeat the assault force.
The Major is now the most wanted man in the Daemon community for his numerous crimes, including the murder of Roy Merritt. An old hand at suppressing third worlds, the Major continues to make plans against the Daemon. The Major ruminates about his past as a heavy for the big corporations, killing people who have threatened their exploitation of foreign countries. He escapes an attempt on his life by Loki, but the experience makes the Major realize that he may not win this war.
In battling the Daemon, the government has been forced into a difficult alliance with private corporations employing the Major, giving rise to private armies who use the cover of night and corporate propaganda to create a state of fear. Intensifying his efforts the Major has dispatched foreign bought mercenaries and uses the corporate media to lie to the general public.
Developing a way to penetrate the Darknet, by recruiting homeless teenagers, he eventually ambushes Loki taking him prisoner. He tortures Loki both for revenge and so that the Major can steal his identity within the Darknet. He later heads the Midwestern offensive from the Sky Ranch, while simultaneously capturing Sebeck. After a speech in which he notes that the general population need to be controlled by a ruling class, he orders Sebeck killed to keep the cover story of his past "execution".
After his plans collapse, the Major hides in a secret bomb shelter at Sky Ranch and awaits a chance to escape. Ten days after the defeat of his forces, the Major heads above ground now using Loki's stolen identity, only to discover that he's surrounded by Razorbacks and the 3D Avatar of Boerner.
The book ends with his inevitable death and the start of a new world...
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Freedom™|
- Interview with Daniel Suarez, titled "Understanding the Daemon"
- Novels' website
- An interview with Daniel Suarez on the BookBanter podcast
- Joi Ito's Review of Daemon
- Daemons: IT Keepsakes; Jim Rapoza, eWeek
- A Book Review: Don Donzal, Editor-in-Chief, The Ethical Hacker Network
- Audio review and discussion of Daemon at The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast