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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
Freedom™ - Daniel Suarez This direct sequel to Daemon moves directly from that novel's closing premise: a baroquely-potent bot, designed by a nefarious and brilliant gaming programmer, has spread out into the web and begun building elaborate disruptions--and alternatives--to society. As the book closed, a secret government task force was ripped to smithereens by the bot's superior pre-programmed nefariosity and its legion of human acolytes and its swarms of scary independent sword-whirling motorcycles.

That last sentence suggests the pleasures I took in the novel (the sly no-exit narrative shenanigans--you can't beat the super-programmer!) and its limits (I'm not much taken by the technophiliac tedium of long passages describing hardware and violent mayhem).

How would Freedom ring? Well, it does one brilliant thing: it turns the good/bad dichotomy of the first novel on its head. As the novel progresses, Suarez takes frequent sidetrips into discussions (informed explicitly by Naomi Klein, James Bamford, and others) of a techno-corporate oligarchy -- all lined up against the Daemon, seeking to use its destruction as cover for their own takeover of the last dregs of freedom around the globe. At its best, the book has a delirious anti-corporate fervor woven right into its ripping yarn, and I love the ambitious subversion of sequel expectations, reconceptualizing the villain as a kind of hero.

That said, the novel is way, way, way too schematic in its thriller mechanics, 'cause once the reconceptualization happens it's just a matter of white and black hats pulling out their guns (or, rather, pulling out their vast arrays of cybernetic metastaticomputationalcoded software and hardware) for big big bloody fights.

I got a bit bored with all that.

Still, I like a pop thriller with a bibliography and a lot on its mind.