Darknet is written by Matthew Mather, who also authored Cyberstorm. Darknet is a tale of financial trading automation taken to an entirely new level, akin to Skynet, but just not so nice. (Speaking of Cyberstorm, now THAT is an exciting read!)
The story opens with a man named Sean running for his life, knowing the exact time that he will probably die, and that’s just a few minutes away. He has enough time to call a friend to say hello of sorts, but sadly, he is struck and killed by a bus just a few minutes shy of when he expected to die.
Sean’s friend is Jake O’Connell, a man deep in the world of financial trading who not only loses his best friend, but suddenly his boss is the target of a fraud investigation. An investigation that even he gets dragged into also, despite his honest practices. All because he might know something, or even, possess something. Something his boss gave him just before the feds showed up.
Meanwhile, halfway around the world some kids with crack programming skills are discovering the dark, seedy world of what’s known as Assassination Markets and what not. Here anyone can put a name on a list and assign a monetary value to it and sometimes, bonuses are offered if you can kill the target at a specified time. Obviously the higher the fees offered, the more trouble the targets find themselves in, with highly shortened life spans.
As different as these two points seem to be, they have a common ground, but it’s a common ground that is very dangerous.
And from here, the story takes you back and forth, around the globe, as Jake pursues information that can help prove not only his own innocence, but could conceivably save the world from being run over by an automated banking system that is already knee deep in controlling our lives, only because, it is carrying out its programming, no matter what the deed may be needed to effect its financial goal.
How can a financial program take over or ruin our lives? Easy. If you are told to go make money, and left to your own devices, what do you think will happen when you suddenly feel threatened by someone who knows what you are up to? Or what happens when someone is in the way of you making the most money possible in any transaction? What if you were a psychopath bent on getting to your goals? Just saying.
When Matthew Mather hits up a new story it’s scary and annoying all at once. That’s because in the back of my mind I can’t forget that Matthew “began his career at the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines, then started several high-tech ventures in everything from computational nanotechnology to electronic health records, weather prediction systems to genomics, and even designed an award-winning brain-training video game.”
And when someone like that writes a book, it gets you thinking. From under the covers, behind locked doors. And just when you think it’s fun to dwell on these things, he reminds you in an afterword how things like Assassination Markets, autonomous corporations, darknet market places and the like are all out there and real.
And as he points out, rather than depicting a machine that wants to smite humanity, he depicts a program that does what is necessary to achieve its programmed goal and nothing more. You don’t need to smite all of humanity to own it, just a select few who are on to it or in its way.
And this is how Matthew presented his tale of financial terror and made it compelling, keeping this reader guessing what’s up. I’m normally not a fan of financial horror/intrigue stories but this take was subtle and real enough to keep me hooked.
Each character is given his or her own due and not looked over lightly while every situation is delved into and described in a deeply rich fashion that leaves no detail unturned. Much to your distress.
Darknet is another hit for author Matthew Mather and if you like these kinds of events and challenges presented in this story, this is the book for you! Even if you don’t like financial-based intrigue, this book is still for you.
Darknet is due out on March 11th, 2015, and it is worth the wait.