Monday, June 12, 2017

Kill Decision, by Daniel Suarez

Looking for a beach read?  Daniel Suarez's Kill Decision is an exciting mix of political thriller and techno thriller.  There are dark forces with deep ties to the U.S. government that want to promote the use of lethal autonomous drones as the next stage of warfare.  Thankfully there is a rogue group of military specialists with the freedom to act independently and with a mission to stop the drone warfare.

With the mysterious Odin at the helm, this group travels the globe in response to a series of related attacks.  The attacks are initially called bombings, but it becomes clear that it's drones.  Odin and his team, whose autonomy, attitudes, and methods reminded me of the team on Agents of SHEILD, intervene in Africa, saving a research scientist who specializes in ant colonies from a drone/bomb attack.  She specializes in the swarming behaviors of aggressive ants, and they learn that her research and computer models have been coopted by those designing and deploying the drone attacks.

Odin, the professor, and Odin's team find themselves targets of the attacks and have to go off the radar to track down the origin.  The story is full of action (admittedly sometimes rather implausible) and narrow escapes.  The science of the drones is frighteningly realistic.  The drones are autonomous, using facial recognition and other software tools to hone in on their prey.  This prevents jamming signals from interrupting their missions, and allows the drones to function at any distance from the programmers.  In addition, they communicate with one another with artificial pheremones, mimicking actual insect communication, an interesting concept that I had not thought of before.

For all I know, this technology is only a short step away from reality.  Suarez makes it very believable, and  crafts an exciting story around its use.  Kill Decision won't make the reading list for American Lit 101 at your local college, but for a fun, exciting page turner, it hits the spot.

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