Daniel Suarez

What if our civilization is more advanced than we know?

The New York Times bestselling author of Daemon imagines a world in which decades of technological advances have been suppressed in an effort to prevent disruptive change.

Are smart phones 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 disease, 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 1960’s 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. 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?

Influx book cover

“Mankind was on the moon in the 1960s, Jon. That was half a century ago. Nuclear power. The transistor. The laser. All existed even back then. Do you really think the pinnacle of innovation since that time is Facebook? ”

This is probably Suarez best work to date. The idea is so compelling, the concept so believable in outline that conspiracy theorists everywhere will be jumping for joy with vindication. And as for the level of detail Suarez has extrapolated, it’s boldly, vividly, and indisputably terrifying.

“You’re telling me everything will be fine if I agree to be your slave.”
“We’re not asking you to be a slave.”
“Then you’re asking me to be a slaver—and that’s even worse.”

I’ll admit, the level of mathematical chatter in the opening chapter did cause me to pause for thought. But the end of the third chapter was nicely done, and as for the seventh … Suarez wasn’t billed as a horror writer but that whole chapter exuded terrifying images of AI’s doing things no Human mind should have to tolerate and disturbed me on a very powerful, techno-Humanic level I’ve somehow not ever thought about quite in that way before.

Even though the ending was soft and the final chapter a little too neat and tidy, the journey to that point was electrifying. One of the best of its kind, this work, and highly, heartily recommended.

So, the five stars go to Suarez and the book. Now, I was given my copy of this book by a friend. I don’t condone piracy, as such, and fully intend to buy the title as soon as it becomes available in the UK (at time of writing I have to live in the US to buy this file from the publisher). I do, however, find it remarkably unfair that we are subjected, worldwide, to the information about upcoming titles and releases, yet publishers, rather than authors, decide when and how things become available in other territories where they hold an interest. The author has little choice but to agree with their publication schedule, of course.

I mention this only so that, when you read the next paragraphs, you can do so safe in the knowledge that my findings may differ from a version I can verify is the market eBook.

First, I always mention in my reviews when self-published books contain typos, grammatical incontinuities, deviations from English. One has come to expect them in the landscape of the Kindle eBook, where anyone’s an author (but everyone’s a critic, me included).

This novel, I’m sad to say, was the tipping point: a modern, recent work with more holes and errors than something anyone could knock out on their own (and I know, because I’ve read hundreds). Three occurrences of “starting” rather than “started”, an “each another” instead of an “each other”, an “one other” instead of “one another”, a “doing to ” that should’ve been a “going to”, a “don’t forgot” which should have read “don’t forget”…

These are just the errors I found whilst reading this book for leisure. Enjoyment. I wasn’t looking for them, I don’t sit down to proofread these things. And, you can argue, these are relatively small things. Quibbles and things that in the grand scheme, surely don’t detract from the story?

Well: they certainly interrupted my flow of reading. You cant tell yourself a story if the words don’t make sense, and each time this happened I found myself remembering I wasn’t in there with Jon and company but actually was reading words instead.

I find this off-putting in self-published and “budget” publications. Seeing them proliferate in a title published by one of the big houses gets my goat far more. This is because when I buy this book I will pay, at a rough estimate, three times the price I’d pay for one of those budget works. I’m not using budget in a derogatory sense here, but there’s this huge, gaping divide in the eBook world at the moment and it’s never more visible than between these two camps of big publisher versus the “underdog”. One way you used to be able to tell them apart was quality, but that’s been ever more difficult as the self-publishing authors tighten up their works and the smaller publishers do more to clean up the works they champion. So now, the only difference is price.

So having read this book, what am I paying three times the price for a similar title from an Indi author to gain? Well, I get a book riddled with mistakes, released later in my country of residence than elsewhere in the world and protected with irritating and totally ineffectual digital rights management technology. Isn’t that super?

If Mr Suarez wishes to publish his next work by himself, at the same price as this but with the guarantee of finding a decent proofreader, no DRM and a worldwide release, I, for one, would pay double because of the message that sends. I’ve not taken a stance in the vitriolic wars of self-publishing versus agents and the big houses. I don’t normally care. But this work surely says something about the health of an industry which makes one pay through the nose for what is, demonstrably, a lesser product.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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