The world of the Archon Sequence is like our world. Only not:
It is a world some five or so years further down the road than ours toward an uncertain future. A world where an infinitesimal, all-devouring monster called Vurdalak hangs trapped in an immaterial web at the bottom of the sea, where self-aware machines battle meta-conscious hive minds for the soul of humanity, where alien intelligences usher in trans-human transformation on a ray of starlight, where reality itself might ultimately reduce to an unthinkably vast equation on the brink of being solved.
In that world, the six-year-old daughter of billionaire industrialist Davoud Ansari has been kidnapped, and ueber-consultant Jonathan Knox and counterterrorism agent Marianna Bonaventure must team up with an experimental artificial intelligence to rescue her, never suspecting that the little girl is the key to a plot years in the making that could destroy the NSA’s most advanced analytical capability, and go on to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States.
One of the country’s most sought-after analysts, not least for his uncanny skill at seeing past surface randomness and intuiting the solution hidden in the noise. Blessing though it may be to his clients, Knox’s so-called pattern-matching ability began as a curse, born in the throes of a long-ago bad trip. Even after all these years nightmarish flashbacks still haunt his dreams. Or did until recently, when something new came into his life, something good, maybe the only thing keeping him grounded: For, through no fault of his own, Knox has blundered into a relationship with — —
An agent for the US Department of Energy charged with keeping track of nuclear proliferation risks … from behind a desk. Having lost both parents to a terrorist hijacking while still in her teens, Marianna is not content to sit on the sidelines, even though her last and, to date, only foray into fieldwork was a year and a half ago. That was the mission where she first teamed with Jon Knox, the one where they’d … well, between the two of them, they’d sort of saved the world. Now she’s on a case with Jon again, investigating the disappearance of billionaire Davoud Ansari’s daughter Fatimah. It’s far less potentially earth-shattering than last time, she thinks, but weird all the same, especially since their co-investigator is —
An artificial intelligence built by Ansari’s company, Psyche Industries. A radical departure from previous attempts at AI, Nietzsche may be the first machine in the world to have attained consciousness, albeit at a terrible, never-to-be-spoken-of price. Nietzsche is also a machine with an agenda — one more far-reaching and convoluted than anyone suspects, one that impinges directly on the kidnapping investigation he is conducting with Jon Knox and Marianna Bonaventure. Yet not even Nietzsche suspects that the real danger lies in their cracking the case and bringing Fatimah safely home.
… is the author of that danger: A deep-cover agent for Iran’s feared Quds Force, he has been posing as Psyche Industries’ head of security for years. Aided by Psyche’s entrée as a contractor to the National Security Agency, he is laboring in secret to understand and undermine the MERGE, an intelligence analysis capability of such power as to place Hamza himself at risk of exposure. Before that can happen, he hopes to use Fatimah Ansari to strike a deathblow at MERGE and thereby lay to rest all his demons — worst of them all, a seventeen-year-old girl who peers out at him from his nightmares, gazing at him with a ruined eye, an eye of blood.