Influx by Daniel Suarez

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Influx by Daniel Suarez

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: When Jon Grady invents a mirror that can reflect gravity he has only the best in mind for society, but elements of the US Government disagree. Rather than being lorded he is locked up in an advanced prison with no hope of escape. Join him in this thrilling techno adventure that has chilling warnings about our own world.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780751557954

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When physicist Jon Grady invents a mirror that reflects gravity he imagines a world that will have cheaper energy and the ability to travel through space. However, unbeknownst to him there is a shadowy government organisation whose job is to quash any technological advancements they believe society is not yet ready for. Therefore, rather than finding himself on stage receiving a Nobel Prize, Grady is thrown into an advanced prison with seemingly no means of escape.

In previous Suarez outings, such as Daemon, it sometimes felt that the author took a bunch of great ideas, put them in a bag, shook it and then let them all spill out onto the page. The same can be said of Influx, but for the first time all these great ideas are wrapped up in a coherent action adventure with characters you can really root for. Grady is a maverick scientist who can smell colour and see music. His unique outlook on life makes him an unusual scientist, but a very interesting character. Behind the science, is also a good man; Grady’s strong morality really enhances the novel as he chooses prison over giving his ideas over to an organisation he does not trust.

The entire world of Influx is an intriguing one. Set in an alternative contemporary America, it is just like today, but with hundreds of hidden advances locked away. What would happen to us if immortality became common, or food was no longer scarce? Would we become a Star Trek style universe of peace for all, or a dystopian planet overcrowded with billions of people refusing to die? It would appear that the apparent villains in Influx actually have a valid reason for intervening and this makes for a much more interesting dynamic than a straight forward black versus white conflict.

Despite the foundations that the shadowy government agency are built upon being grey, their actions are anything but. There is a streak of darkness in 'Influx' that raises it from a competent techno-thriller into the realms of a real page turner. A futuristic prison full of geniuses sound like a great idea and good fun, but Suarez does not play it for laughs. Instead, Grady and his fellow inmates are all housed separately from one another with only a cruel AI for companionship. The struggle that Grady has to go through parallels that of The Count of Monte Cristo and just like in that classic, you feel his later vengeance is just.

By adding much-needed grit to his writing style, Suarez leaves the reader unsure what is going to happen next. Events do not always unfold as you would imagine and the characters that you believe will be key towards the end may not even make it that far. This all combines to create a tension that only the best thrillers are able to achieve. Throw in several intelligent and interesting science fiction ideas into the mix and you have one of the best near-future thrillers I have read in a long time – perhaps since Jurassic Park?

Sammy recommendation

There is some great edgy science fiction being released at the moment, why not try out Afterparty by Daryl Gregory or Sand by Hugh Howey to find out for yourself? You could also try some earlier work from Suarez: Daemon and Freedom.

Booklists.jpg Influx by Daniel Suarez is in the Top Ten Thrillers of 2015.

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