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Daniel Suarez
Dutton, 416 pages

Daniel Suarez
Daniel Suarez is an independent systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies. He has designed and developed enterprise software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries. An avid gamer and technologist, he lives in California.

Daemon Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Freedom™
SF Site Review: Daemon

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'The CIA guy gestured to the walls. "Look around you. This is what they were doing in the Cold War -- big stuff. Do you realise how much two hundred billion a year for half a century buys you? The president himself doesn't have the clearance to know about half these programs.'
Influx is the fourth novel from Daniel Suarez, and as with his other titles it's a futurist thriller. Meticulously researched, it's presented as a thinking man's action movie, on paper. This time around the plot concerns technological advances hidden from humanity by a secretive and all pervasive American agency named the Bureau of Technology Control. Like so many government funded ideas the BTC began with a semi-legitimate though singularly arrogant mission; preventing catastrophic damage to the existing global society and economy, by holding back certain world-changing developments. For example, we learn that sustainable fusion power was developed many years ago, and suppressed because of the effect it could have on all business that depended on other power sources. Although not in the same fictional world as the author's master works, Daemon and Freedom™, Influx has elements in common with them, such as advanced technology which, for the most part, is highly credible stuff hanging on the edge of possibility. It's a delicate balance, but one that Suarez manages with the skill and audacity of Philippe Petit. Don't know that name? Petit is the only tightrope walker ever to cross between the Twin Towers. Like the daring Frenchman, Suarez goes higher and takes bigger risks than many of his contemporaries or predecessors. It's a technique which allows and enables his work to stand out. But, is that the same thing as being outstanding?

Influx has many familiar themes; the fascination of advanced science, conspiracy, subtle oppression, spectacular set piece scenes, and one man against an almost omnipotent system. The primary difference here is that very few people know the aforementioned system even exists, including those who should. There is something gratifying about the idea that organisations such as the NSA could find themselves under someone else's undetectable surveillance. The BTC, represented by a megalomaniac director named Graham Hedrick, is shown through scientist Jon Grady's eyes as being the ultimate Big Brother. Grady is the inventor of the gravity mirror, the latest in a long line of potentially world changing developments, nipped in the bud by the BTC. Hidden, even from other spooks, the BTC decides what is best for us all, and makes genius innovators offers they can't refuse. If, like Grady, they do refuse, then the ultimate sanction is to confine them to Hibernity. This is a super high-tech solitary confinement prison, where wills are systematically broken by uncaring AI's, there to rape the inmates unique minds. No prisoner has ever escaped Hibernity, but a few prove smarter than the system that holds them, enabling Grady to resist his torturers. How and why Grady eventually returns to the world is for readers to discover, but suffice it to say that when he does he's a man with a serious mission. Others who play major roles include chief of security Morrison, a highly skilled commando cloned multiple times by the BTC, and Alexa, a prototype genetically enhanced woman, created using plundered medical advances. The author shows us many wonders and dangles digital trinkets, the greatest of which is Jon Grady's gravity mirror. This is a device which can, to put it simply, alter up or down by tapping into and manipulating the force of gravity. The various applications of the invention that we're shown play well on the cinema screen of the mind, and if I may borrow from a famous movie tag line, you'll believe a man can fly.

All novels have their minuses, and with Influx I must say that the opening scenes are not as instant as the author's gold standard, Daemon. Not because they aren't as interesting, indeed what is portrayed is a real attention grabber. The issue I had was that much of the early dialogue concerns genius level scientists talking shop. A degree in physics isn't mandatory, but I felt sure one would've helped me to grasp the technicalities. The good news is that once the geek meet is over, the story becomes very much more accessible. From that point on Daniel Suarez takes care to explain his tech in ways that although never dumbed down, can be understood and therefore better appreciated by his readers. At one point we learn of BTC splinter groups, operating in Asia and Russia respectively. This I found to be one of the more interesting plot elements, loaded with potential, which disappointingly is not realised. The ending, while satisfying, came faster than I would have liked and felt a little rushed. In particular, a scene set seven years into a future about which we learn almost nothing. I would have dearly loved one more chapter, tidying up a few loose threads, and perhaps giving an overview as to the state of the wider world. But, having said that, any author who leaves his readers wanting more has, by definition, done a great job.

In summary, Influx is the literary equivalent to a bungee jump. Its mind's eye cinematography makes Iron Man look like steampunk, and it's plentiful ideas will boggle the brain of anyone this side of Michio Kaku. I can, therefore, recommend it both to existing fans of Daniel Suarez, and prospective readers thinking of taking a chance. If writing can be likened to a game of cards, then Suarez has another winning hand.

Copyright © 2013 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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