Daniel Suarez's fourth novel, INFLUX, is adorned with blurbs anointing him both the “legitimate heir to Michael Crichton” and “the Jules Verne of the Digital Age.” These are daunting comparisons that, as a big fan of both Crichton and Verne, I found to be pushing the envelope. His first three novels were good, but INFLUX takes things to a whole other level. More importantly, it begs the reader to believe in the hype of the above-referenced blurbs. This book really is something special and deserves to be mentioned with the classic authors of science fiction and beyond.
INFLUX poses these questions: What if our civilization is more advanced than we know? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960s failed to arrive? Well, maybe it did arrive --- but only for a select few. Readers immediately will call to mind classic sci-fi series that imagined a future filled with innovation. Films like Back to the Future showed flying cars and hoverboards being the norm in the present day in which we currently live. Author William Gibson noted: “The future is already here --- it's just not very evenly distributed.” Prophetic words, indeed.
"Daniel Suarez has successfully introduced technology and themes that will engage all readers. INFLUX has enough suspense and intrigue to keep the pages turning right up to the climactic finale."
When particle physicist Jon Grady achieves a monumental scientific breakthrough --- a gravity mirror --- he and his colleagues threaten to revolutionize the entire field of physics. Just as Grady and his cohorts are demonstrating this mirror, their office is attacked. A terrorist-type group calling themselves the Winnowers are behind it. Their feeling is that Grady's research robs us of our humanity, creating a hell on earth.
Grady and his colleagues are tied up, and a bomb is set off --- obliterating them and everything in the building. However, Grady awakens to find himself fully dressed, unharmed and in some type of futuristic-looking office. He is ushered in for a meeting with the CEO of a shadowy organization known as the Bureau of Technology Control (BTC), the mysterious Graham Hedrick, who explains that Grady survived the explosion and is now a “guest” of the BTC.
It seems the BTC goes after any individuals who discover or create an invention that will impact the way we live. Hedrick informs Grady that man's pinnacle of innovation did not end with our voyage to the moon. Dozens of exceptional breakthroughs have been made since then, with nearly all of them now a part of the BTC. Mankind has had no clue that these innovations have taken place, and the individuals responsible for all of them are considered to be dead. Grady finds out that these inventors and great scientific minds are all housed in a secret location called Hibernity, where they are subjected to various forms of torture and mind extractions.
After years of imprisonment, Grady is able to escape and immediately contacts Special Agents who are after the Winnowers and seeking to bring them to justice for acts of terrorism and mass murder. Not only does Grady have to convince them that he is not dead and is who he claims to be, he also must uncover the secretive BTC in the process. Grady informs them that, by holding captive all these great minds, the BTC is trying to create consciousness without free will.
INFLUX is an epic story, and the struggle Jon Grady goes through in his efforts to expose and bring down the BTC is jaw-dropping. The action is nonstop and never predictable, featuring a plot packed with awe-inspiring science and creation. The science involved is easy to visualize and simply demands that a film be made of these creative ideas. Daniel Suarez has successfully introduced technology and themes that will engage all readers. INFLUX has enough suspense and intrigue to keep the pages turning right up to the climactic finale.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 7, 2014