“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

“Reamde” by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow, 2011)

This is book review number 600 for BookBanter!


Neal Stephenson returns with one doorstop of a tome weighing in at over a thousand pages, with Reamde, which some computer geeks may have guessed is in fact a misspelling of “readme.”  Stephenson takes a growing sub-genre that is right up his alley: that of the massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG).  Whether you’re a computer fan, a Stephenson fan, or a fan of edge-of-your-seat thrillers, you’ll find something to sink your teeth into and keep chewing on for some time in Reamde.

Richard Forthrast is our approaching-middle-age hero who is one of the big brains behind the multi-billion dollar MMO, T’Rain, which is known throughout the world, whether you’re a rich white kid who likes to pretend he’s an elf, or a gold farmer somewhere in Asia looking to make some good money.  T’Rain was in fact created with that in mind – Richard’s past is not a completely clean one by any means – to be open and available and possibly profitable to just about anyone on the planet with a good Internet connection.  And then a very specific virus attacks T’Rain, known as Reamde, which immediately begins making a lot of money for its creators and screwing over a lot of the regular players.  Richard and his team of brainiacs are now working round the clock trying to bring a stop to this.

Meanwhile, one of Richard’s family members – Zula – originally from East Africa and adopted into the family as a young girl, was hired by Richard to work for T’Rain, and becomes involved in a really big problem when her boyfriend Peter – who happens to be a renowned hacker – is looking to make good money selling credit card numbers to a shady, unknown character.  Things take a turn for the worse, when the Reamde virus hits and screws everything up for him.  Before they know it, the Russian mafia is breaking down their door, kidnapping them, and taking them to Asia by private jet to find the perpetrators of the Reamde virus and get their revenge.

Reamde begins like an expected Stephenson book with computers and an MMO, but then makes a change to a Tom Clancy-style thriller, as the characters travel around the world, getting involved in elaborate shootouts in distant countries.  Eventually Islamic terrorist even get involve, as well as a member of MI6 who seems to appear from nowhere and gets a twenty page introduction.  The crux of the book takes place towards the end of the first third of the book, in what Cory Doctorow calls “. . .an epic, 100+ page climactic mini-war.”  The ongoing saga eventually leads back to Seattle and the northwest, passing into Canada, where the novel began, pulling Richard Forthrast into the mix.

Reamde certainly has a captivating voice that Stephenson skillfully uses to hook people in, with a complex and interesting story, but then the action and thrill-ride goes on and on, pulling in more and more characters.  As can be said for almost any thousand-page novel – though I’m sure some Stephenson fans love that it’s this long – Reamde could afford to lose a couple hundred pages, perhaps be edited in half.  Towards the end of the novel, it feels like the initial drive may have become lost in the mess of people and bullets and traveling.  Readers will be left wondering why this massive cast is now chasing and following the ever-changing villains, in the hopes of getting to Zula – an originally interesting female character who eventually becomes “kidnapping baggage,” when even some of these characters looking to find her have never even met her.  Reamde could’ve used an editor performing some heavy page cutting and some necessary redirection to help Stephenson stay on the rails; the result is a sprawling epic that loses its way on a number of occasions.

Originally written on October 13, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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