Daniel Suarez is an American IT consultant turned author of science fiction thrillers. Suarez initially published his critically acclaimed novel under the pen name Leinad Zeraus, which is a play on his name Daniel Suarez, written backwards. His first novel was the 2006 published Daemon which he self-published. During his information technology system consultant days, he consulted for Fortune 1000 companies, and developed and designed innovative technologies and software for entertainment, finance, and defense industries. Given his long-held interest in creative writing and IT systems, most of his sci-fi and high-tech novels are about technology driven change. In addition to consulting for a range of companies, he has spoken about technology at the Long Now Foundation, MIT Media Lab, and TED Global among many other platforms. What makes the diminutive Suarez so unique is that all that he knows about technology and software development is self-taught, given that he never studied scientific subjects in college. Nonetheless, he is an avid console and PC gamer, which perhaps explains his exceptional world building skills.
Writing is always something he has wanted to do since he was young. As a child, he always saw himself as the next great American novelist, which is one of the most compelling reasons that steered him toward a degree in English literature. He first got interested in technology after reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “Player Piano” while he was in grammar school. The novel was so compelling that he would reread it several times while he was in high school and college. The premise that humanity was inevitably moving into a point in time in which people would not need to work, struck a chord with the budding author. Endlessly fascinated by the fiction, he found it counter-intuitive that humanity would one-day love to stop working, as he thought such a development would rob life of all its meaning. Even though he had read a lot of science fiction through the years, Player Piano remained the most thought-provoking novel, since unlike its peers, as its technologies were not set far into the future. The expansion of automation and robotics further convinced Suarez that the events of Vonnegut’s “Piano Player” were happening right in front of his eyes.
He would graduate with a BA in English literature, and worked as a pen and paper role-playing game moderator, before he got busy doing other things other than writing. He simply lacked the discipline at the time given his wide-ranging interests. Over time, he became more interested in technology, particularly how American society was making logistics, transportation, communication and other networks leaner and more streamlined. Seeing Slammer and Conficker sweeping through most networked and mechanical systems, started the author thinking about whether the whole edifice was a light construction on even less robust infrastructure – a house of cards of sorts. The thought of writing a white paper came to him, but given that very few ordinary people would ever read it, a thriller seemed the most appropriate way to transmit the information. Moreover, given his degree in English literature and his love for entertaining thrillers, he was certain that he could write popular novels that would explore the issues in depth.
Daniel Suarez’s novels, particularly the first three focus on how technologies such as drones, robotics, and artificial intelligence may turn out to be dangerous to humanity. His first novel Demon and its sequel are about the rise of a botnet that takes control of computers, crashes the stock market, takes control of self-driving cars to kill humans with them, and clones a society in its own image. He would follow that with a novel about drones that would decide to use lethal force to control humans without needing any human input. While he keeps his technological focus, in “Influx”, he changes direction by telling the story of how a secret US government agency seizes the work of a scientist that invents a machine that could reverse gravity. Reading Suarez’s novels get the reader a feeling, that maybe it is high time someone controlled the rate of technological advancement and its adoption. However, he negates this in the later novels by asserting that government controls on technology could just be as detrimental to development and innovation, as much as technology itself could be on human life. Government control of technology means that they could just be as injurious, since a group of people or an agency can stockpile enough technology such that they can control all aspects of human life. They could eventually become uncontrollable just as machines or software.
“Daemon” Suarez’s debut novel is a high-tech thriller exploring the possible consequences of a computer program made to dismantle society and establish a new world order. The modern world is controlled by technology with everything from flight controls of airplanes, movements of the stock markets, access to homes, and remote entry on homes. If a botnet network or daemons managed to get into the networked systems it would cause untold havoc. What is worse is that these botnets do not need human input once coded with the information about what they have to do. The novel tells the story of Mathew Sobol a world-renowned computer game maker whose death wreaks havoc not only on his company’s stock price, but also on the world. When his obituary is posted online, it activates previously dormant botnets in computers all over the world that had installed his games. The fast spreading daemons are threatening to take down entire technological networks, and it is up to an unlikely alliance to save society from a faceless enemy. The novel is a gripping suspense full of high-tech realism in an highly complex yet authentic fashion reminiscent of Neal Stephenson or Michael Crichton.
“Freedom”, the second novel in the Demon series is one of the best sequels to a sci-fi thriller series. The Daemon is now heading towards total control of human society and is employing an expanded network of dark net operatives to achieve its goals of destroying civilization and creating a new world order. The mainstream media is stoking public panic as Corn becomes scarce even as the American Midwest is gripped in a civil war. Pete Sebeck a former detective and now most reluctant operative, has been tapped by the Daemon to foster a populist movement of the so-called enlightened humans, to ensure that the new world order is established for posterity. But global society is not going away quietly as big business has been hiring private armies to destroy the Daemon. With world governments rapidly losing control and loyalties in flux, the choice is between the comforts of ignorance and free will. In a year full of innovative sci-fi thriller novels, Daniel Suarez managed to garner the attention of literary critics, futurists, and the tech community, leaving readers clamoring for more.
Books in order of publication by series: