WIJFR: Kill Decision

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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.

Today I finished reading “Kill Decision” by Daniel Suarez, the author of “Daemon” and “FreedomTM.”

A series of terrorist bombings has put the United States on high alert. A secret Special Ops group knows, however, that the bombings are actually drone strikes, aimed at very specific human targets, and are desperately trying to find (and stop) the source of the drones. Professor Linda McKinney, an ant specialist who has developed a software model of how ant colonies swarm and attack, is suddenly swept up into the world of Special Ops as Odin and his crew rescue her from a drone strike and inform her that her software model is being used to control the behavior of autonomous killing machines.

What follows is a fast-paced, technological thriller on par with Suarez’s previous books. At one point, the swarm of thousands of drones intent on killing the team reminded me of scenes from “Matrix Revolutions” (think about the machines invading Zion, or the machine city near the end). As usual, Suarez is able to take real-world existing technology and push it just into the realm of science fiction (or is it?), but not enough to make it completely unbelievable, just scary.

In what seems to be a recent pattern, my reading has coincided with real world events, including a recent unmanned drone landing on a Navy aircraft carrier and a Colorado town passing a law to allow drone hunting!

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