“Influx” by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, 2014)


It seems logical that if movie rights to a book are sold before the book is even published, then the book must be pretty good. Such is the case with Daniel Suarez’s latest book, Influx, rights to which have been acquired by Twentieth Century Fox. Another book that went through similar motions was Justin Cronin’s The Passage, before it was released, which went on to become a huge bestseller and was also a great book. But perhaps the key to Influx is that it is not only a riveting thriller that the likes of Michael Crichton or Tom Clancy might have written, but it is a book that is uniquely Daniel Suarez and sets the stage for his ability as a great writer and talented storyteller. There aren’t many books when one reads the last page, one feels compelled to flip back to the first page and start reading again, but Influx is definitely one of them.

What if our world was in fact way more advanced technologically than we thought possible? What if fusion power, true artificial intelligence, anti-gravity or even immortality had already been invented but had been kept hidden from humanity because of the possible harm it could cause the human race and the planet? This is the premise for Influx, which opens with particle physicist Jon Grady trying out his newly invented technology with his colleagues as they wrap their minds around the reality that is a gravity mirror. The possibilities are endless! And then they find themselves under attack by a terrorist group who tie them up and leave them in the warehouse to be killed by the bomb that has been left for them.

The bomb goes off and then Grady awakens to find himself in the office of the Bureau of Technology Control, a supposed government watchdog group that snatches up advanced technologies that pose too great a risk for the world. Grady is given the option to continue his work for the bureau or be imprisoned. Refusing to give up, Grady options for the latter and thus begins his tough times that will push him to the limits if he wants to fight back against this clandestine nonexistent government group.

Influx has the techno-thrill of a book that the late Michael Crichton might one day have written, as well as the jargon and complexity of the late Tom Clancy, posing the question as to whether Daniel Suarez is the author to step into these bestselling authors shoes? But the book also has a human side to it with its characters, with a moral to be learned and appreciated, as well as a story filled with cutting edge science that leaves one wondering if they’re reading fiction or nonfiction?

Daemon and Freedom™ were Daniel Suarez’s start as an author, as he told a particular story he wanted to tell. Kill Decision was his follow up book that was a story seizing on the hot topic of drones that were about to make headline news worldwide. Influx is the quasi science fiction thriller that Suarez was destined to write, that shows his full ability and scope not just as a great writer, but as a visionary storyteller that sets the stage for his future books that will no doubt match and exceed Influx in scope and potential. Suarez is a writer you should take note of, because he’s got some very important things to talk about, things that in all likelihood may one day come to pass.

Originally written on February 16, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Influx from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Daniel Suarez will be doing a reading and signing at Copperfield’s San Rafael on February 25th at 7pm. CLICK HERE for more information.

I had the opportunity to interview Daniel Suarez in 2009 with the release of Daemon which you can listen to here.

You might also like . . .

Daemon  Freedom  Kill Decision

“Kill Decision” by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, 2012)

Kill Decision

Bestselling author Daniel Suarez delighted readers with his gritty and hard-edged take on technology gone haywire with Daemon and Freedom, and now he’s back with his next techno-thriller, Kill Decision, scrutinizing the subject of unmanned drones that cover our skies when we’re not looking.  Suarez certainly seems to be fortifying a bridge between the late, great Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy, which fans of either or both will thoroughly enjoy.

Told mostly from the viewpoint of Linda McKinney, a talented scientist and studier of the social structure of ants, known as a myrmecologist, she is soon dragged into a big conspiracy covering the globe and going up to the very top of the United States government involving these unmanned drones.  Her character serves as an excellent perspective to clue readers in to what’s going on, as she has very little idea, but at the same time her skills are still important to the mission at hand.  A Special Ops soldier known as Odin “recruits” McKinney to his elite group to find out who is controlling and targeting these drones to attack specific locations within the United States and ordering the kill decision; it’s up to them to get to the bottom of this and prevent an all-out unavoidable war.

Daniel Suarez has once again managed to take hold of a subject that is featured in today’s headlines and spin it into a bunch of what ifs that serve to educate as well as terrify.  Told with skill, tension and drama, Kill Decision is a book that won’t leave you sleeping easy at night as you imagine those unmanned drones flying overhead.

Originally written on March 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Kill Decision from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Daemon  Freedom

“Micro” by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston (Harper, 2011)


Found as an incomplete manuscript on the late Michael Crichton’s computer, Micro is an example of the old style of Crichton’s work, with a great extension of cutting edge science, pushing it into the field of science fiction.  In some of Crichton’s more recent novels there has been an overbearing philosophy and biased political angle; fortunately, there is little of this in Micro, though his “corrupt” characters are thin and painfully obvious.  Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer, was brought in by the publisher to complete the manuscript, and he does a good job of making the whole novel feel seamless, working off of Crichton’s outlines, notes and research.

Micro opens with the scene of three unknown bodies found in a business office in Honolulu; cause of death is uncertain at first, and then attributed to a number of micro cuts and lacerations over the whole body, including, when it is investigated, inside the body on tissues and organs.  Cut to Nanigen Technologies, an up and coming company with a number of secret projects going on.  Seven graduate students are picked from MIT to become assistants for the company located in Hawaii, but stumble onto some details they shouldn’t know anything about.  Before they know it, they find themselves shrunk down to just inches in size and abandoned in a rain forest arboretum, left to die.  The question is whether they can first keep themselves alive at this size, with everything out to get them, and then get themselves back to normal size and stop the people behind all this.

Micro definitely has its high points, and while the characters can seem predictable and shallow, overall it’s an entertaining novel that doesn’t hold up to any of Crichton’s greats, like Jurassic Park and Congo, but is nevertheless a fun last book from this bestselling author.

Originally written on December 28, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Micro from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

BookBanter’s Top Ten New Releases for Tuesday, November 22

BookBanter's Top Ten New Releases

One of the big things I feel I’ve grown out of touch with since the closing of Borders is my knowledge and awareness of what the new book releases are each Tuesday, and I’m sure some of you also feel that unless you have a bookstore nearby, you don’t have this information readily available either.  So to help improve my awareness and get myself back in the game of knowing what’s new and coming out each week (I used just know this stuff automatically, whether I had read or would be reading any of the new releases or not), as well as to help you readers keep informed, we have BookBanter’s Top Ten New Releases.

So each Tuesday morning there will be a post on the BookBanter Blog and on the BookBanter site giving you my top ten new releases of the week.  I’ll be going through everything I can find coming out for that particular Tuesday and choosing the top ten important ones.  They’ll be mostly hardcovers, with some occasional paperbacks, focusing on Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, and occasional Fiction books.

So here’s the top ten new releases for Tuesday, November 22nd.





by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Found within the late Michael Crichton’s files, Micro was only a third complete when HarperCollins brought Richard Preston on to complete the book using Crichton’s notes and outlines. In the thrilling style of Jurassic Park, Micro is the terrifying story of that which we cannot see. Three men are found dead, murdered. The only evidence is the bodies riddled with minute cuts and mysterious a tiny-bladed robot.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.



Explosive Eighteen
by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is back with her eighteenth Stephanie Plum novel, and this time she’s pulling out all the stops. Stephanie finds herself immediately getting into trouble as soon as she arrives back in Newark after a terrible vacation in Hawaii. What’s worse is her seatmate never returned during their layover in Los Angeles, and now he’s dead, the body stuffed in a garbage can, and the killer could be anyone, anywhere.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan began his career through small press publishing, and is now joining the grand stage with a big, international publisher. Theft of Swords collects the first two books in the Riyria Revelations series – The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. People looking to discover a great new fantasy series should grab Theft of Swords, and meet the infamous and elusive pair of thieves, Hadrian and Royce.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




The Third Reich by Robert Bolano

Originally written in 1989, The Third Reich was found amongst Robert Bolano’s papers after his death. This is the thrilling story of death and intrigue, surrounding a brilliant strategy game called The Third Reich, which seems to bear some devastating consequences for anyone who plays it.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran

Cthulhu and the works of H. P. Lovecraft have never been more popular. What better way to get started, or perhaps to improve your collection than with this original anthology of Cthulhu stories. Edited by Paula Guran, it features stories from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Sarah Monette, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, Charles Stross and more.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




Well-Tempered Clavicle by Piers Anthony

Pier Anthony is back with a new Xanth novel, the 35th, in Well-Tempered Clavicle. The likes of Picka Bones and Joy’nt are off on an adventure with newly arrived creatures from Mundania. Anthony fans will not be disappointed.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




Lightspeed Year One by John Joseph Adams

Lightspeed is an award-nominated online science fiction magazine edited by bestselling, renowned editor John Joseph Adams (Living Dead). In Lightspeed Year One, Adams collects the first year of fiction published by the online magazine, featuring the likes of Vylar Kaftan’s “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See you in Reno,” as well as reprints from such great authors as Stephen King, Ursula K. LeGuin, George R. R. Martin and more.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah Monette

From bestselling author Sarah Monette comes the first non-themed collection of her best short fiction. This collection is a great addition to any fan of Monette’s work, and for anyone looking to try out this great author for the first time, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is a perfect place to start.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




Autumn Disintegration by David Moody

The penultimate chapter in the terrifying horror series from David Moody, Autumn Disintegration reveals a world forty days after its end, where billions of corpses now walk the earth. There is one group of eleven, fighting to survive, doing whatever it takes, while another group employs tactics, subtlety and planning to keep themselves alive. Moody skillfully brings the two groups together, as they all know the final battle is about to begin.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.




When the Saints by Dave Duncan

From author Dave Duncan comes the great sequel to Speak to the Devil. When the Saints picks up where Duncan left off: Anton Magnus must defend the castle from the attacking neighboring state, but fortunately Cardice has a secret weapon in Wulfgang Magnus. Only Wulfgang must choose which side he is to fight on, and whether the love for one beautiful Madlenka will sway him.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Swarm” by Frank Schatzing [Translated by Sally-Ann Spencer] (William Morrow, 2006)

The Swarmstarstarstarstarstar

The Swarm is technically not a new book, but was originally published in 2004 in Germany by Frank Schatzing under the title of Der Schwarm, where it immediately climbed onto the bestseller lists and has stayed there ever since.  In 2006 the book was translated and published in Britain and the United States; a paperback edition was released in May, and in August The Swarm will be released in mass market edition.  In the style of Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy starting with Forty Signs of Rain, and Michael Crichton when he was at his best some books ago, and The Day After Tomorrow; this is an eco-thriller set in today’s world with a story that while fantastical is not completely out of the realm of possibility.  The paperback edition is 900 pages long, but the more you read of it, the more you will want it never to end!

It is the present time, the world is pretty much the same place, George Bush is still in office, but there are some very strange things happening in the oceans of our planet.  Fishing boats have begun disappearing off the coast of South America, no pieces or bodies are ever found.  Just off the coast of Vancouver humpback and orca whales that have been entertaining sights for tourists now choose to attack the boats: the humpbacks break them in two, while the orcas move in for the kill.  In France, fresh lobsters that are being prepared for dinners at famous restaurants burst open and exude a gelatinous substance; soon people begin dying.  Around the world ships of all shapes and sizes mysteriously begin disappearing, as do submarines and other submersibles, never to be heard from again.  Eventually a catastrophic event happens that shocks the world: the methane ice supporting the North European continental shelf collapses causing a Tsunami that drowns the west coast of Europe from Norway to Spain, and floods the east coast of Britain from Scotland to London; many people are dead.

The world is in shock, not sure what is happening or what they are going to do.  A crack team of scientists is convened in Canada at a secret location to come up with a solution to these catastrophes.  They include characters who have already had their lives put at risk: Sigur Johanson, a marine scientist who barely escaped the Tsunami; Karen Weaver, a journalist who specializes in marine stories and was rescued from the Tsunami by Johanson; Leon Anawak, a marine biologist who barely survived the whale attack off Vancouver, as well as many others, involving all agencies of the United States government.  They are working against the clock to find out what is going on and to come up with a way to stop this, whatever this is.  Meanwhile the land invasion has begun, with millions upon millions of crabs storming the beaches of the east coast again carrying this mysterious jelly substance; people begin dying in the thousands as the water supply is contaminated.  New York is doomed, Washington DC is next.

While The Swarm features a sizable cast, as these events take place all over the world, Schatzing keeps everyone clear and identifiable, with the reader is left wondering who’s going to make it and who isn’t.  With a depth of research that I haven’t read since World War Z, the author takes the reader into the minds of many people around the world, seeing through their eyes and their culture, as they try to deal with these terrible events.  It is a time to put differences aside, as everyone must work together to come up with a solution before it is too late.  As far as the translation goes, Sally-Ann Spencer has done an incredible job of making the book run fluidly, to the point where I forget this book was originally written in German.

The Swarm is the perfect summer read to cool you down in the heat, but it also opens your mind to ideas and possibilities you never thought of, and with a movie adaptation due in a year or two, this will be the book you’ll read and not be able to forget.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on July 18th 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Traveler” by John Twelve Hawks (Doubleday, 2005)


This book actually generated quite a bit of buzz before it was released last June and I had it recommended to me by a few people saying that it was in the vein of Stephen King, and since I’m a fan I would probably enjoy this. I managed to get an ARC through the bookstore I used to work at and then it sat on my shelf for about six months until I picked it up and decided to start reading it last week. I finished it about four days later after pretty much eating it up. I would describe it as akin to a Michael Crichton techno-thriller with some plenty of sci-fi mixed in. After getting about a hundred pages into it I was even wondering if Crichton much just be working on this same book currently because of its similarities with his story lines, the main difference being that this was a little slower and the characters had more depth to them. After finishing this book I realized that this has certain elements that Crichton would never put in his books, making this an enjoyable original piece of fiction. If the Matrix trilogy had originally been made into a book trilogy and done by a good writer, it would’ve been something like The Traveler.

The book is set near to the present day or perhaps twenty or thirty years into the future. The world is pretty much like it is now, except for being a little more high-tech and with better gadgets. There is a group of people known as Travelers who have the unique ability of being able to leave their bodies and travel to other worlds or realms. They have existed for many thousands of years, Jesus and Mohammed are thought to have been Travelers. There is a group of people known as the Tabula whose job it is to eradicate these Travelers by whatever means necessary. They have also been in existence for a long time. Then there is a group called the Harlequins whose job it is to protect the Travelers in every way possible; again they have been around for a very long time.

In the present it is thought that no Travelers are in existence anymore, having been wiped out by the Tabula, while the Harlequins have been reduced to very small numbers. Our main character is the daughter of a Harlequin whose father is soon killed in the book and while she had renounced her duty as a Harlequin, due to the small number of these people still alive, she has been summoned to become a Harlequin once more, because two offspring of a Traveler have been found alive in California. The Traveler’s gift is usually passed down through genes, though this is not certain. It is her job to find those two brothers and keep them safe. The Tabula also know of the existence of these two brothers, but their modus operandi has changed dramatically. They no longer wish to kill the Travelers, but to harness their powers. The reason being that using past Travelers they have been in contact with another race living in one of the other realms that the Travelers go to, and this race is vastly superior and more intelligent and has been sending them new inventions and technology such as creating quantum computers that can measure how Travelers pass into these other realms, as well as being able to send additional matter into these realms. So they want to use the Travelers as guinea pigs to work with this new race.

This the setting of the book with a lot more details than I have given and features great chase scenes and amazing fights. The Harlequins are taught from when they are children how to fight with different weapons. At the same time the Tabula basically have the Internet, all technology, the government, police, etc. under their control. So their world has its similarities to that of The Matrix, as well as to Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Gibson’s Neuromancer; and I also saw a lot of Blade Runner in the book too. With the world in its current state, it’s not surprising that a book like this has been written. The good thing is that apart from being a really great read, it is the first book in a trilogy and hopefully unlike the Matrix trilogy, it will not doom itself to an ugly death before one is half way through the second book.

Interestingly, the author John Twelve Hawks is very much a recluse who apparently has never met with his agent, has been working on the book for a long time, and has never owned nor has he ever watched any TV. So there are some thought-provoking possibilities to keep in mind, along with some strange websites that have been created for the book, though it almost seems as if some of them were created before the book came out, which is just plain weird.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 11th, 2005 ©Alex C. Telander.