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Kill Decision [Hardcover]

Daniel Suarez
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 24 2012
The shocking techno-thriller that cements Daniel Suarez’s status as the heir to Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy—a terrifying, breathtaking, and all-too-plausible vision of the world’s near future.

Unmanned weaponized drones already exist—they’re widely used by America in our war efforts in the Middle East. In Kill Decision, bestselling author Daniel Suarez takes that fact and the real science behind it one step further, with frightening results.

Linda McKinney is a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies the social structure of ants. Her academic career has left her entirely unprepared for the day her sophisticated research is conscripted by unknown forces to help run an unmanned—and thanks to her research, automated—drone army. Odin is the secretive Special Ops soldier with a unique insight into the faceless enemy who has begun to attack the American homeland with drones programmed to seek, identify, and execute targets without human intervention.

Together, McKinney and Odin must slow this advance long enough for the world to recognize its destructive power, because for thousands of years the “kill decision” during battle has remained in the hands of humans—and off-loading that responsibility to machines will bring unintended, possibly irreversible, consequences. But as forces even McKinney and Odin don’t understand begin to gather, and death rains down from above, it may already be too late to save humankind from destruction at the hands of our own technology.

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Kill Decision + Freedom (TM) + Daemon
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Product Description


"Kill Decision really nails it...Daniel – wow – awesome."
—Brad Feld, Business Insider

"Perfectly blending nail-biting suspense with accessible science, bestseller Suarez (Daemon) establishes himself as a legitimate heir to Michael Crichton with this gripping present-day thriller."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This is the kind of mind-expanding novel that uses entertainment to make powerful, important points about alarming current trends; the novel as cautionary tale has rarely been better executed...Highly recommended."
— Tim O'Reilly

"Kill Decision reads like a Michael Crichton thriller..."
— Associated Press

"A confident thriller that leaves us wondering not whether its fictional premise will one day become reality, but when."
Kirkus Review

"A plausible account of how, and more importantly, why, the real 'skynet' might be created."
—Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc.  

"Daniel Suarez came out of nowhere...he self-published his first techno-thriller, Dameon, an enthralling convincing tale about a murderous AI loose on the Net. Now he has a publisher and a sequel, Freedom™.  It's even better."
Time on Freedom™

"Greatest. Techno-thriller. Period....Experts have long feared the Internet doomsday scenario; Daemon is arguably more terrifying."
—William O'Brien, former White House director of Cybersecurity and Communications Policy, on Daemon

"Daemon does for surfing the Web what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean."
Chicago Sun-Times

"Daemon is the real deal-a scary look at what can go wrong as we depend increasingly on computer networks."
—Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist

Freedom™ crackles with electrifying action scenes and bristles with intriguing ideas about a frightening, near-future world…. Daemon and Freedom™  combined form the cyberthriller against which all others will be measured.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Daniel Suarez is an independent systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies. He has designed and developed enterprise software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries. An avid gamer and technologist he lives in the Western Hemisphere.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pulp fiction - not up to Daemon Aug. 17 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved Suarez's first two books and was hugely excited about this one. And while I enjoyed this one, I felt disappointed. It is well written and engaging - but generally short on ideas ad substantive 'science' content.

It did induce the requisite fear of the potential that autonomous weapon systems or other types of autonomous system gone wrong. And for that I appreciate Suarez's work - many have written about autonomous systems but few have induced the AHA fear.

That said, I felt most of the book was 'pulp fiction', light on science, superficial relationships and emphasis on 'cinematic potential' action. I give this a moderate recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ned turned author. Aug. 5 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
That's what I walked away thinking about this wonderful book. The technology is possible and the drama is in no short demand, I am now looking at ordering his first two books. If I can fi nd them in hardcover.

After Patterson, Baldacci, Cusler and W.R.Griffin, welcome Suarez to my collection

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  272 reviews
58 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Explosion Kills Daniel Suarez, Author of Best Selling Drone Thriller July 19 2012
By John Robb - Published on
Daniel Suarez has done it again (Daemon, Freedom). He's written the tech thriller of the year.

He's managed to get his mind around the most complex and terrifying military technology of our time, DRONES, and turn it into a thriller that will keep on the edge of your seat.

What is a drone and why is it terrifying? It's a flying robot that can kill with precision. Drones are currently being used across the world from Pakistan to Yemen to the Philippines, to continuously watch and kill people. Already, thousands of people are being killed by drones each year, and that number will rapidly grow beyond everyone's expectations. Why? Moore's law. Drones are going to get very cheap and very smart much faster than anyone anticipates (in the same way cell phones and personal computers got cheap and powerful). That means they will be many, many more of them, used very often, in a plethora of places.

This is where Dan Suarez steps in. He takes this lethal technology and projects it forward in a way that feels right. Why? He (rightly) uses myrmecology (the study of ants, think E.O. Wilson's Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition) as his pattern for the evolution of drone technology.
He then puts it into a fast paced story replete with military special operators (in SAPs), corrupt defense contractors, and lots of very creepy drones -- which combine to keep you on the edge of your seat.

So, BUY this book. Treat yourself to an education, a thrill, and a scare all at the same time.

Read it before you see it in the theaters (this WILL become a movie).
39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smart? Yes. Thrilling? Not so much... Aug. 16 2012
By Susan Tunis - Published on
Daniel Suarez's first two novels, Daemon and Freedom (tm), turned me into a fan. Therefore, I was excited to learn of the publication of a new stand-alone thriller. I did not find Kill Decision to be as strong as Suarez's prior novels, but I'm still a fan. I can't help it; I'm a sucker for smart fiction.

This time around, Suarez is writing about the threat of autonomous drones being used by the military. After several opening scenes which illustrate the dangers of these devices, the story builds around a military man on a secret mission to investigate a series of drone attacks on U.S. soil and a scientist who gets caught up in the action. She researches ant behavior--but it seems that her pure research has other, darker applications. Now these two are teamed up with, well, a team. They need to stay alive, stop the drone attacks, and hopefully get the military to see that machines can't be trusted to make life or death decisions.

Now, that's a fairly sparse synopsis coming from me, and you may have noticed that I used no names. I didn't really see the point. The characters were so superficially drawn that I could barely remember who the supporting characters were, and the male and female protagonists were awfully generic as well. I have to admit that I had a very hard time caring about them or getting invested in their story. Plus, they all had ridiculous monikers like Odin, Mooch, and Foxy. (Or you'd have a character nicknamed Ripper interacting with a character named Ritter. Do you really need to make things that difficult, Mr. Suarez?)

And it wasn't merely the characters that had a generic feel about them; some of the dialogue was downright cringe-worthy. An example: at one point the lady scientist asks the military man why he's drawn to war. He responds, "It's what I'm good at. And there's a bond you develop with your unit that's hard to find in civilian life. People you can trust your life to." Is that, or is that not, one of the most clichéd exchanges ever written?

And one more significant criticism... While Suarez has written some nice action sequences and some genuinely tense scenes, at some level the action feels tacked on to a tale that's more about talk than tussle. It's almost as though whenever things grow too static, the author felt the need to throw in some sort of crash or chase or threat, leading to a somewhat contrived feel to the proceedings.

At this point, you can certainly be forgiven for wondering what I DID like about the novel. I liked what I always like about Mr. Suarez's novels: they're just so darn smart! In fact, I'd sort of compare Suarez to a favorite writer in another medium, Aaron Sorkin. Don't get me wrong, Suarez isn't the wordsmith that Sorkin is, but what they have in common is the sheer intelligence they bring to their subject matter, no matter what it is. And it's that intelligence that draws me in every time. I couldn't be less interested in the behind the scenes workings of a television sports program, but in Mr. Sorkin's hands, Sports Night was pure gold. I am similarly disinterested in all things military, drone technology, etc., but Mr. Suarez milks the subject matter for every ounce of interest and fills his novel with passionate speeches ranging from technology to biology to philosophy. And at these times, his writing is both compelling and lucid. Simply put, I can't get enough. I will read about any subject he cares to write about because I know he's going to make it interesting.

I do think this is Mr. Suarez's weakest novel to date, however, I'll be reading his next release because I have faith. He has the tools in place and will continue to learn the craft of writing a thriller. Beyond that, he has gifts of intellect and curiosity and the ability to connect diverse subjects in fascinating ways that are rare and far less easily acquired.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Real. Very Plausible. July 20 2012
By Shlok Vaidya - Published on
Kill Decision is startlingly real. And equally plausible.

Suited masters of perception playing games with reality while skipping scotch in Crystal City. D.C.'s incestuous relationship between big defense business and... everyone else. Nameless, compartmentalized operators fighting through the night in cesspools loosely labeled as countries. Drones raining from the skies.

For those familiar with the constellation of clandestine units, private military contractors, and information warriors that comprise much of America's counter-terrorism capacity, this book will feel very, very real.

(If you're not up to speed, I heartily recommend Marc Ambinder's The Command: Deep Inside the President's Secret Army as a quick/cheap/quality introduction to that world.)

But Kill Decision takes that reality a step forward. In a way that perhaps cements Suarez's position as the best near-future fiction author of the post-9/11 era. He folds in equal parts science, warfare, and informed futurism to take today's sleek drones to their logical conclusion. The results will gnaw on your brain like a swarm of gnats, for weeks after you read the book.

This is possible, of course, due in large part to his foundation in John Robb's work (something Suarez graciously mentions in his acknowledgements). Readers of Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization and the Global Guerrillas blog will find themselves nodding along.

Kill Decision is that real, yet, like Suarez's Freedom and Daemon, it's also a lot of fun. Great action sequences that just scream MAKE A MOVIE. Compelling characters. Quality narrative. It's all in here.

Grab it today if you want to see tomorrow.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but not up to "Daemon" July 22 2012
By S. Reid - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I need to say first off that this is a very good book, just not another "daemon" which I absolutely loved. I was really looking forward to this book and pre-ordered it. As soon as it arrived, I eagerly dove in and started turning pages. The first quarter was dry so I looked to see if there were any reviews. Within the first hour of the book being released, there was a glowing five star detailed review. Seems a little suspicious and Suarez himself addresses these issues in the book. I guess the first quarter sets up the technology and context which pays off in the rest of the book. I am glad to say that the last half of the book is very exciting and I could not put it down. This may not be as innovative as "Daemom" and "Freedom," but it is highly enjoyable and worth your time.

Update, while I will leave my review at 4 stars, I must report that this book has sat really well and my appreciation has grown for it.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watch out Tom Clancy Aug. 3 2012
By Scott Converse - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can't say this is science fiction so much as a near (actually, really near) future war story. I know a guy in Boulder, CO. that consults for the military creating a specialized Android OS specific to the US Air Force designed to fly, remotely, jets. As in F18 type jets. He told me almost 2 years ago about how they had to have autonomous operations if they were cut off from remote control and much of what I read in this book sounds very similar to concepts my friend told me about over lunch at a restaurant on Pearl street in 2010.


So, not so 'near future' as 'tomorrow or the day after' future.

As far as this book is concerned.. exceptionally well written. He's using a Tom Clancy like style and, for a story like this, it works beautifully. Fast paced, (reasonably) believable characters and an excellent plot line.

The only thing that bugs me (and the reason I'm giving this a 4 instead of a 5 star rating) is his trick of getting me to buy the 'whole' story twice. He did this with his first two books (Daemon and Freedom). It's effectively a clever selling technique to make more money. He's not exactly serializing the story like the old SciFi guys used to. He takes a longer story, finds a good break point in the middle, and prints the first book (1/2 the story) at full price, then the second book (finishing the story), also at full price. You'll notice this book is a little short. That's because, I'm betting, he's not done (at least, I hope not. There were some major plot lines left unanswered).

Still, if you like his first two (really one) books, and Tom Clancy's style, you'll love Kill Decision.

Kill Decision
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