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
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.
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.
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.
Say something about yourself!
I'm at a crossroads with Daniel Suarez. The comparisons to Michael Crichton are intriguing. But the one talent that Crichton excelled in comparison was dialogue. In INFLUX, you have an imaginative book with a clever premise that just falls short on the dialogue. Wooden exchanges, cliched comebacks, etc.. take quite a bit away from the story. In fact, i was torn whilst listening. chapter after chapter it was 'yuck' then 'more please' . It might have been the narrator contributing to this, but i found him to be quite tolerable. So in the end, i've come to the conclusion Suarez makes up with his imagination what he lacks in storytelling strength. Crichton was able to somewhat merge the two masterfully. Despite all shortcomings, I have become somewhat of a fan of Suarez in hopes that he can evolve.
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.
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 loved the first 3 Daniel Suarez books. This one however seemed to take a reach too far in the story line. The story telling like all of Daniel's books is exact and exceptional, I just never really bought into the premise of the story.
Well, if they were into this sort of speculative/action thrillers. It's not a book for everyone?
Yes, Gurner is one of the best Audible performers, and he does an outstanding job on this one. Top 10 of his work, without a doubt. In general, Audilbe performers are getting better, and Jeff is one of the best. He does Suarez well.
The last 1/4, with lots of action and resolutions, was damn interesting.
This book grows on you.Lots going on, and some complext story lines that weave around. Admittedly there is alot of action, and some of it is abit gratuitous. That said, i enjoyed it greatly,although it is abit light , it is enjoyable. Recommended.
You never have to wait for anything if you bring a good book.
It's hard to write my opinion of this book without revealing more than I should, so be warned.
I very much enjoyed the major plot elements:
- the most horrible torture scenario ever written, where an implacable computer with infinite time pries out your secrets by reading your mind and zaps away your favorite memories as punishment for non-cooperation.
- a convincingly venal government agency gone rogue, developing incredible advanced technology not for America, but for its own ends, until it becomes so powerful that civilian government and armed troops are powerless against it.
The parts I am less enamored of were the overly abundant, occasionally swashbuckling but unconvincingly fortunate outcomes.
Still it is an interesting book that makes you wonder about whether there are real rogue agencies within the government with so much power that the government has to carefully pretend they don't exist.
That feeling when you know you are about to purchase and binge listen to everything they have ever written? This book is awesome. Couched in what feels like real science...which for me is something I need in order to completely suspend my belief in what is happening in the story. When your characters can fly and cast sleep spells in a context that is feels like it's only a few years away from being reality, then you can be assured I'm going to be interested in what's happening...do that and have a gripping story to boot? then you, sir ....get 5 stars.
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.
"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.
"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!
This is the first time I've written a review. After listening to this book I simply had to say, this is one of the best and most well researched stories I've heard.
"Amazing story and acting."
The story was fantastic. Being someone who mostly reads/listens to sci-fi books that are based hundreds of years in the future this was quite refreshing. Some of the ideas in this book are pretty terrifying, I think I know what my own version of hell would be now!
Thoughts on future tech, ideas around what could happen.
He does an excellent job with the main character, outstanding job with everyone else too! He really brings an extra sense of atmosphere.
Hybernity (Think that's how it's spelled!), and some parts towards the end.
Without meaning to cause offence... the whole experience was much better than I had expected!
"Exciting story, but relies too much on exotic tech"
I have enjoyed all Daniel Suarez's books, and I think that Jeff Gurner does a fantastic job narrating the story. The main ideas in the book are plausible and disturbing, but I wish that the story didn't rely so much on exotic technology relating to gravity. It got a bit much after a while. Still, I enjoyed the book and found it absorbing and thought provoking.
"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.
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