For The Win by Cory Doctorow

Changing pace yet again I decided to binge on some Cory Doctorow goodness. If you don’t know who he is check out Cory’s Wikipeida entry, he is an interesting character. His politics are about as far from mine as they could be, but he is a really great storyteller.

You can download and read Cory’s books for free and even remix, mash-up, re-write, and mangle the contents to your hearts content following the Creative Commons Attrivutions-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license. You can get his books at Craphound.com.

For The Win is an attractive story to me because I enjoy playing video games, have played a lot of different MMOs in the past and look forward to playing them again with my son when he is old enough. I also really like the international viewpoints the story presents, the U.S., China, India, and Russia all come together.

I found the book to have a lot of lectures in it, at times I felt like I was being treated like a child in a schoolroom sitting at one of those little desks with the attached chairs. I tried to tune a lot of that out because the story itself is really good, the characters have a lot of depth and I found myself rooting for most of them. This is a really good story if you can get through the lectures.

From the publisher:

It’s the twenty-first century, and all over the world, MMORPGs are big business. Hidden away in China and elsewhere, young players are pressed into working as “gold-farmers,” amassing game-wealth that’s sold to Western players at a profitable markup. Some of these pieceworkers rebel, trying to go into business for themselves—but there’s little to stop their bosses from dragging them back into servitude. Some of them, like young Mala in the slums of Bombay—nicknamed “General Robotwallah” for her self-taught military skill—become enforcers for the bosses, but that only buys them so much.All the way over in L.A., young Wei-Dong, obsessed with Asian youth culture and MMORPGs, knows the system is rigged, knows that kids everywhere are being exploited. Finally, he and his Asian counterparts begin to work together to claim their rights. Under the noses of the ruling elites, they fight the bosses, the game owners and the rich speculators, outsmarting them with their street-gaming skills. But soon the battle will spill over from the virtual world to the real one, leaving the young rebels fighting not just for their rights, but for their lives…

I rate For The Win an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to any Cory Doctorow or gaming fan.

Freedom by Daniel Suarez

Freedom is book 2 in the Daemon series of novels. It continues right where Daemon left off, more of the same.

I enjoyed Freedom, there are a lot of subplots in it that I really enjoyed, but it is not as good as Daemon and I found the end wanting. I would like more, I would like more of the subplots to be wrapped up. I just want more.

From the author’s website:

In one of the most buzzed-about debuts of 2009, Daniel Suarez introduced a terrifying vision of a new world order, controlled by the Daemon, an insidious computer program unleashed by a dying hi-tech wunderkind. Daemon captured the attention of the tech community, became a New York Times and Indie bestseller, and left readers hungry for more.

Well, more is here, and it’s even more gripping than its predecessor. In the opening chapters of FreedomTM, the Daemon is firmly in control, using an expanded network of dispossessed operatives to tear apart civilization and rebuild it anew. As civil disorder spreads through the American Midwest, former detective Pete Sebeck, now the Daemon’s most influential yet reluctant-operative, must lead a small band of enlightened humans in a populist movement designed to protect the new social network. But the private armies of global business are preparing to crush the Daemon once and for all.

In a world of conflicted loyalties, and rapidly diminishing human authority, what’s at stake is nothing less than democracy’s last hope to survive the technology revolution.

I rate Freedom a 6 out of 10 and recommend to anyone who read Daemon.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

I don’t remember how this series by Daniel Suarez came to my attention. It could have been as simple as the title of the first book, “Daemon”, or my proclivity for techno-thrillers that get most of it right.

I burnt myself out reading Jack Campbell space battles one after another for a couple of months and needed a break. Daemon is about as far away from The Lost Stars as I could get.

Daemon is a great story of a madman who leaves behind a legacy of malware that has infected thousands of machines around the world holding corporations and governments hostage.

I really enjoyed this book, the pacing is good, the characters are believable, and the technology is pretty sweet. Suarez takes many liberties with the details of the technology, but they all worked for me. The security issues that are highlighted by the author don’t really bother me that much, apparently many people find it controversial, it just feels like a near-future reality with better internet.

From the author’s website:

Daemon brings readers on a harrowing journey through the dark crawl spaces of the modern world. It’s a cutting-edge high-tech thriller that explores the convergence of MMOG’s, BotNets, viral ecosystems, and corporate dominance—forces which are quietly reshaping society with very real consequences for us all.

It all begins when one man’s obituary appears online…

Matthew Sobol was a legendary computer game designer—the architect behind half a dozen popular online games. His premature death from brain cancer depressed both gamers and his company’s stock price. But Sobol’s fans weren’t the only ones to note his passing. He left behind something that was scanning Internet obituaries, too—something that put in motion a whole series of programs upon his death. Programs that moved money. Programs that recruited people. Programs that killed.

Confronted with a killer from beyond the grave, Detective Peter Sebeck comes face-to-face with the full implications of our increasingly complex and interconnected world—one where the dead can read headlines, steal identities, and carry out far-reaching plans without fear of retribution. Sebeck must find a way to stop Sobol’s web of programs—his Daemon—before it achieves its ultimate purpose. And to do so, he must uncover what that purpose is…

I rate Daemon an 8 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who likes techno-thrillers or sci-fi.