The colliding armies are virtual, but the bloodshed isn’t, in a sequel to Daemon (2009).
That novel ended with Detective Sergeant Peter Sebeck of the Ventura County (Calif.) sheriff’s office in jail, the government’s fall guy for a bizarre series of events that no one has a real handle on. No one except for rogue computer genius Matthew Sobol, that is, and he’s dead, leaving behind as a memento mori the scariest legacy the planet has ever seen. But what exactly is the Daemon? Since it’s derived from an online video game, dedicated gamers come closest to comprehension. Consummate insider Jon Ross, for instance, describes the Daemon “as an open source cybernetic organism…that is spreading across the globe.” For the benefit of a still skeptical ex-colleague (and any bemused readers) he adds, “the Daemon is real, and it’s bigger than all of us—because it is all of us.” Whatever it actually is, advocates and adversaries by the millions line up to support or abort the Daemon. Suddenly, Pete finds himself sprung and drafted for a Grail-like mission. His task is “to grok the shamanic interface,” which means to embark on an updated Pilgrim’s Progress that will end at last in his passing through the mythic Cloud Gate. In this way only can he justify the embattled concept of freedom, proving thereby that humanity is able to transcend an inherent drive toward self-destruction. Meanwhile, in the gathering storm, rival avatars and digital ghosts prepare to duel, computerized armies gird virtual loins—and anyone without a geek-speak dictionary is likely to flounder.
The previous novel drew a sharper line between good and evil, allowing less web-oriented readers to empathize and root for the righteous. This time out, techno thriller surrenders to nerd lit.