What if our civilization is more advanced than we know?
The New York Times best-selling author of Daemon - "the cyberthriller against which all others will be measured" (Publishers Weekly) - imagines a world in which decades of technological advances have been suppressed in an effort to prevent disruptive change.
Are smartphones really humanity's most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century - fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common diseases, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances - have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960s failed to arrive?
Perhaps it did arrive…but only for a select few.
Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they've been working toward for years: A device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics - the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel Prize. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring. This Bureau of Technology Control uses the advanced technologies they have harvested over the decades to fulfill their mission.
They are living in our future.
Presented with the opportunity to join the BTC and improve his own technology in secret, Grady balks, and is instead thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold rebellious geniuses like himself. With so many great intellects confined together, can Grady and his fellow prisoners conceive of a way to usher humanity out of its artificial dark age?
And when they do, is it possible to defeat an enemy that wields a technological advantage half a century in the making?
©2014 Daniel Suarez (P)2014 Penguin Audio
I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.
At the opening the premise was solid; there is a secret government organization responsible for monitoring and controlling global technological innovations. It is very powerful and deeply off the books. Then, just when you have bitten a big bite of the apple, enter the dark forces that mimic the evil characters in a Marvel comic sans the mutant superpowers (our antagonists use technology to that end).
Eventually the entire sic-fi thriller degrades into silly dialogue and revenge-driven mania.
This audiobook should only be downloaded in those desperate moments (from your Wish List) when you are late for work and your iPod is empty. If you have the time, search around for a more viable futuristic battle of good vs. holier-than-thou-technocrat.
I was intrigued by the plot of this sci-fi novel. A great scientific discovery. Intrigue and a cover-up. I won't be a spoiler, but the plot is interesting. My problem is that I need characters I like or who are believable. Not a single character came across as believable to be, and so I didn't ultimately care about what would happen and quit about a third of the way through this. I can see why lots of readers liked this - it intrigued me at first. If you like a good dose of physics in your sci-fi, and characters aren't too important, you will probably like this. It just was not for me.
I really liked the concept of this book. It seemed like a solid premise, lots of potential for character growth and action. What we got was a bizarrely shallow and fairly slow listen.
Characters are killed abruptly and without much emotional impact. The plot toys with some great hard sci-fi concepts, but ultimately fails to deliver on them. Any emotional connection was... forced, to say the least. The story seemed disjointed and contrived in execution.
It wasn't the worst book I've listened to by any means, but it was only marginally interesting. I would give it a pass over... so many other deserving books out there.
A shame. I wanted to like it.
Influx is a fun read, though not as gripping as his Daemon series. The first half of the book is slower paced with a lot of technical information, but the pacing picks up in the 2nd half with the exciting action we've come to expect from Suarez.
The world of Influx is not as strongly developed as the augmented-reality gamer paradise of Daemon, and as another reviewer noted, the suspension of disbelief is more difficult with this story. However, the humor and lighter tone helped me to just go with it and enjoy the fun, silly ride.
Even though the beginning was slower paced, I found the scientific explanations of new technology and the psychological explorations of futuristic interrogation quite interesting.
Things really get fun when the action turns on. I loved the manipulated-gravity combat tactics that took Ender Game's "the enemy's gate is down" concept to entirely new levels.
While the story is about a secretive and ruthless government division suppressing miraculous breakthroughs in physics and technology, Suarez continues to acknowledge his gamer geek cred with a shout out to Leeroy Jenkins, and a nod to the greatest first-person-non-shooter (that would be Portal of course). One of the many enjoyable characters was a GladOS-like female AI that ran a secret facility and tried to kill people while cheerfully engaging them in friendly conversation. She even used laser-turrets for security.
The story ties up neatly, but there are rogue AIs left that could make for an interesting sequel (please).
As a big Suarez fan, I pre-ordered Influx and started listening within minutes of it being available after midnight. While it was different than his other books, I was definitely not disappointed and eagerly look forward to his next release.
Influx is not quite as interesting as Suarez's first work, Daemon (and Freedom tm, which was really just the second half of Daemon rather than a second book) but I enjoyed it more than Kill Decision.
The characters are nicely drawn, the story never lags. Definitely a page-turner... and Suarez is never afraid to dip into "hard sci-fi" levels of technical descriptions that are the result of copious research.
The best part by far is the scene in which the main character is being interrogated. I don't want to spoil anything, but it is a brilliantly conceived bit of drama that there's no way to describe without spoiling. Suffice it to say that it alone justifies reading the entire book, and it is beautifully written.
If there is a single problem with Influx it's that it requires a greater level of suspension of disbelief than the closer-to-current-reality books that precede it. Daemon and Freedom were almost as far-fetched, but they baby-stepped you towards accepting each new piece rather than demanding you to accept everything all at once. Influx throws you immediately into a universe that's far removed from our current levels of technological achievements without giving you time to adapt. However, the concepts are so well researched that they still feel real, and if you can suspend disbelief on some of the more exotic technologies presented (which, again, Suarez explains expertly) you're in for a great ride.
Daemon (and its sequel Freedom) stands as my favorite fiction book in the last 20 years. Influx doesn't quite reach that bar, but is close... and is a fantastic book.
Also, worth mentioning that the narration by Gurner was excellent as always. I wound up reading about a third of the book and listening to ⅔... I found that when I was reading I was hearing Gurner's voices. He's a great narrator.
Daniel Suarez's previous works were amazing. This feels like something written much earlier (like High School) and published now due to the success of his other books. The story was terrible.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
When a character has an unusual condition, in this case synesthesia, where the senses conflate, where sounds are felt as colors, for example, you really want such a powerful potential metaphor to figure into the story and character.
When you take the admirable path of building a science fiction story on a strong foundation of science fact, you have to make the science understandable to an audience that likely has a knowledge of science at a high school level, maybe some college.
When you create a double chase, where characters are being pursued by one group while pursuing the real bad guys, you have to follow the advice of the master, Alfred Hitchchock, and establish a McGuffin that is credible to the reader.
These are three big problems in Influx. Synesthesia explains how an relatively uneducated scientist can come up with technology that alters gravity, but his altered perspective hardly figures into the story otherwise, a major missed literary opportunity.
The physics behind his gravity-bending machine is so dense, and so densely front-loaded, that one cannot imagine making it past the first few chapters unless you have graduate level education in physics. Too bad, because the story gets better from that point on.
But as good as the story gets once the science is explained, the McGuffin that drives the plot simply makes no sense. Setting up a massive secret and deadly organization to hoard technology in pursuit of global domination makes no sense when you can easily achieve global domination by releasing that technology (it's like Dr. Evil's plan to extort One. Million. Dollars!). That pesky razor of Mr. Occam, derailing another far-fetched premise.
I saw a review of Influx that took the shape of a bell curve, the book getting increasingly better as the science is explained and worse as the science takes a back seat to the action. Different strokes for different folks. As much as I like science fact in my science fiction, Influx got worse as it delved deeper into the dense technology and progressively better as it fell back onto traditional action sequences.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (futuristic thriller) - The main character, Grady, is a particle physicist who has invented a gravity mirror. He and other geniuses are imprisoned by a rogue federal agency supposedly trying to keep futuristic technology from upsetting humanity and the balance of world power. The thrust of the story is Grady trying to escape from the prison, rescue his fellow scientists and get their inventions back into the proper hands, save the world, etc.
This book is full of awesome scientific thinking and gadgets, but IMHO it goes way too far, to the point of being like the action hero cartoons kids watch on TV. What starts as fascinating applications of reflecting gravity soon turns into prolonged action scenes with good guys fighting bad guys as huge buildings rip out of the ground and disappear into outer space. There is so much gravity reflection and manipulation during the action scene at the end that I gave up trying to envision who was moving where and what was up or down. I just wanted the book to end.
PERFORMANCE - I plan to check into other books performed by Jeff Gurner. This book has great multi-character differentiation, accents, sound effects, etc. I loved the futuristic voices he gives the artificial intelligence characters. There is also suspenseful music played during critical scenes.
OVERALL - If you're looking for something serious and weighty, look elsewhere. This is more of a light, futuristic action story. There is no sex, but there is quite a bit of cursing. There is fighting and killing but it is fairly light and not gory or overly descriptive. Not recommended for people under 18, only because of the detailed descriptions of scientific gadgets and the cursing.
I loved all of Daniel Suarez's previous books. They were brilliant techno-thrillers based on technologies that are not far removed from reality. Anyone who enjoyed "Daemon" now looks at Google Glass from a different perspective. He's a brilliant author. That's why I was worried when "Influx" was too techie for me, a 30-year veteran of the high-tech industry. Suarez introduces the technology in his story with a degree of accuracy and information that can overwhelm the casual reader or listener. DO NOT LET THIS TURN YOU AWAY!
Very quickly, the engineering lesson is over and a first-rate thriller emerges. This is a very entertaining story if you can get past the initial lecture. I feel this story will not be as popular as his previous books because some people will be turned off by first few chapters. That's too bad, because "Influx" has all of the brilliance we've come to expect from Daniel Suarez.
I don't re-listen to books, so no
Very good narration, good pacing
The first part of the book was terrible. Was like the author was just randomly throwing out words to sound technical (which was funny, because a character in the book actually accuses another of the same). Almost made me turn it off. By chapter 3 it was a lot better, and the concept of the book took off.
Absolutely bloody brilliant
To many to list, on the edge from beginning to the end.
In Hibernian prison.
I would recommend this book to any one who enjoys futurism, Daniel Suarez wrote this in a marvelous way that brought vivid images through out. Jeff Gunner as narrator made the book come alive and his reading skills are second to none.
I have to say that this book is one of the best I have read (well technically listened to) in ages. It is science fiction but deeply rooted in fact, and so believable that you start to ask yourself if this could account for the lack of technological leaps forward over the last decade or two!
I tend not to pay a lot of attention to books before I buy them and didn't know what to expect. The action starts almost straight away, but the narrative draws you in from the opening paragraph. There are goodies and baddies in this story, and better still lots of technology (even artificial intelligences!) There are plot turns and twists and you never see which way the plot is going to turn.
Other reviewers have said that parts of this book are a little far fetched and that might be the case but they don't detract from an excellent story. The plot is very well conceived and extremely well told. The hallmark of a good book is that you reflect on it when you aren't reading it, and I certainly gave this one a lot of thought.
Would I recommend this book? Without hesitation. If you like science fiction or thrillers then you are likely to enjoy this book. I will be looking at the other titles by the same author - I enjoyed the book that much :)
"Love it !!"
Love it , I have listened it about a million-ish times still one of my favourite books I've listened to on audible. This is well read and is a good book , I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and I'm probably going to start listening to it again tomorrow .
Found myself going to bed early to continue listening. Nice, subtle use of ambient effects. Initially found Jeff Gerner's narration a little uninvolving but warmed to it. Based on this I would listen to one of the author's other books.
"Zapp Brannigan reads a book..."
Didn't make it past first chapter ! He speaks like he's reading a bunch of 'bullet points' ! Really bad and un-listenable. Think Zapp Brannigan from futurama trying to read you a book !
Zapp Brannigan from futurama really detracts from the book
"What audiobooks ought to be"
A brilliant story, around a great idea, read superbly.
The whole story has a very cinematic feel but without losing the beauty of a book.
Jeff Gurner is a consummate reader and performer, pitching the delivery perfectly. He really adds to the already 'action movie' feel of the story.
Has everything you need for a ripping escapist yarn.
"Sadly, a genuinely disappointing effort"
More depth to the characters. Less predictable and simplistic.
Not spend hours describing theoretical physics in an attempt to provide realism to a ludicrous storyline.
Pleasing, limited and naive.
Daniel Suarez started brilliantly with Daemon, and its sequel, FreedomTM (neither of which are available in the UK on Audible!). His follow up Kill Decision was just ok but this book is probably the poorest book I have listened to in several years.
"Beware the Bureau of Technology Control."
This is a good dystopia story with good characters and a plot that is well-paced and enjoyably narrated. I listened to it over three days and it kept me interested throughout. The descriptions of the new technologies are engaging without being too detailed, which is important as they are integral to the book itself.
The AI character in the BTC reminds me of VIKI, the central computer in the movie 'I Robot'.
The 'baddies' are bad and the 'goodies' are good, just as they should be without being too predictable.
"In the end, I didn't care"
Getting past the fact that the narrator has a very annoying voice and reading style, by about 3/4 of the way in, I just didn't care what happened. I predicted what would happen and then ramped the playback speed up to x1.5 to get it over with.
"Brilliant! Exciting! Very Compelling Story"
It is a techno-thriller, with brilliant characters that you care about. The narration and production is superb and easily some of the best I've every heard from Audible.
John's time in Hibernity, talk about powerful! Those images will stay with me for a very long time! I'll say no more, lest I ruin it.
John (obviously), but Morrison and Hedrick were brilliant.
The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed (William Gibson)
I cannot recommend the audio book highly enough! It is a fantastic story that keeps you hooked until the very end. There is a solid story-arc that ends in a satisfying way. Unlike many books of the sci-fi thriller genre it doesn't fall foul of its own premise. A thoroughly good read/listen!
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