Review: Freedom (TM)

I just finished reading Daniel Suarez’s Freedom (TM) in about three days. This is much more a statement of the novel’s quality than my own somewhat glacial reading pace.

There’s a lot in here I really love. Mr. Suarez has clearly done his research, even listing many of his sources, along with the universities and labs inventing the technology he brought to life. Back again are the AutoM8’s, the Razorbacks, and the rest of Loki’s arsenal. Back are the HUD glasses, the enhanced reality, and all the other disruptive technologies held down by corporate interests. And Suarez repeatedly puts them to excellent use.

The best part of the book is its brilliance as an outlet for frustration. Don’t like the idea of millions of micro-transactions from financial companies acting as glorified parasites on the markets? Tired of farmers getting sued for using heirloom seeds or having their fields contaminated? How about media manipulation? Corruption in government? Several harbingers of these questionable practices suffer messily for their transgressions.

That’s not to say it’s a one-sided battle. The Major is the foil all our heroes flail against, one way or another. His paramilitary contacts and corporate backers won’t go down without a fight, and even have a fairly solid plan to subjugate the Daemon itself to secure even more power than they’ve already wrested from the populace. At one point, they liken themselves to God. With enough military hardware and mercenaries to launch simultaneous attacks across the world, discounting them would be a huge mistake.

It’s a hodgepodge that works well in concert with all the moving parts. But there were some issues I had, which I’m not sure how to address. Suarez has a habit of speaking through his characters too freely. More than once, I found myself questioning dialog. Everyone is an expert in conceptual ideologies and theoretical applied technologies, apparently. And while Daemon stretched the credibility of Sobol’s genius, Freedom obliterates it. Nobody can anticipate all the variables he supposedly wrote into the Daemon, especially since they all depend on unreliable humans. Sobol only killed a handful of co-conspirators in Daemon, yet there are enough back doors and counter-programs to give a hundred coders migraines. And who recorded and edited all of his holograms basically outlining the entire plan? Remember, he could have framed any one of a dozen other inspectors other than detective Sebeck.

Ignoring that, it definitely kept me engaged. I work in some of the industries integral to the plot, and it’s easy to identify with his imaginative application of exciting research lurking over the horizon. I highly recommend this to anyone who liked Daemon or any of Neal Stephenson’s early work.