Kill Decision (Anglais) Broché – 6 août 2013
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Revue de presse
“A terrifyingly real scenario.”—The Washington Post
“A confident thriller that leaves us wondering not whether its fictional premise will one day become reality, but when.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Kill Decision is an eyes-wide-open, eyebrows raised, head-shaking warning.”—Wired
Présentation de l'éditeur
Linda McKinney studies the social behavior of insects—which leaves her entirely unprepared for the day her research is conscripted to help run an unmanned and automated drone army.
Odin is the secretive Special Ops soldier with a unique insight into a 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. But as enigmatic forces press the advantage, and death rains down from above, it may already be too late to save mankind from destruction.
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A geek's paradise with advanced notions of swarming and collective intelligence, but also packed with action and the occasional not-to-heavy romance.
I loved it and would recommend it as a summer read.
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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.