Daniel Suarez is one of those authors that in a few more years (or after one of his novels reaches the big screen) is going to be talked about as one of the top authors of contemporary science fiction. His latest book, Influx, while I wouldn’t say is his best novel (that honor in my mind goes to Daemon) it is probably his most cinematic.
The plot is based around a “what if” scenario. What if humanity was in reality far more technologically advanced than we thought we were? What if we had already perfected fusion power, created true nano tech, found the cure for cancer, created Artificial Intelligence, vastly expanded human longevity and physical and mental limitations, and made huge advances in materials science? What if the human race had all these things but they had all been hidden from us by an organization that hides them from us for our own good because the consequences of their discovery would do more harm than good?
When you put it like that it sounds noble. However, as the main character of the novel, Jon Grady, finds out it is far from anything of the sort. Jon is a thinker with a unique mind and discovers a technology that could represent one of the greatest technological shifts in human history; the Gravity Mirror, a device that can harness the most powerful force in the universe. That’s when the BTC, the Bureau of Technology Control, arrives and destroys his lab before any news of his accomplishment can spread.
You see, while the BTC may be protecting us from rampant change it has also been taking all of this revolutionary technology and hoarding it for itself, abducting those who created it and attempting to turn them to its own research agenda. Those scientists who decline their offer are imprisoned and tortured. Jon is one of these Resistors.
Influx is a roller coaster read with a wide-ranging scope and well thought out premise. A summer blockbuster waiting to happen. I think I killed the book in about two days because it is one of those page turners that you don’t want to put down. I only have a few quibbles. 1) While most of the book has dead-on pacing the finale seemed a little rushed, but that may only mean it will translate even better to the big screen (including the epilogue that I think could have tied up some loose ends with just a few more words . 2) One of the characters is improbably able to acquire and adapt the BTC’s advanced technology and provide it at the most opportune moment. 3) One simple answer invalidates every single disaster model the BTC produces: Space Colonization. The last scene is good and I like the feeling behind it, but all I need is an orbital elevator or space launch to make me feel better.
Originally published 5/5/08 at Dreaming 5GW.
There have been other works of fiction discussed in 5GW circles that, to some extent or in some part, contain elements that could be used as examples of Fifth Generation Warfare theory. Ender’s Game and other books of the ‘Enderverse’ come to mind. Daemon by Leinad Zeraus, however, doesn’t just contain elements of 5GW thought; it is a book that embodies nearly every aspect of a 5GW conflict.
All of the elements of Fifth Generation Warfare are here. The Daemon controls a highly distributed organization that works by proxy and in secret. Even when its targets know the Daemon exists and is attacking them they themselves are forced to keep its existence secret. The Daemon uses the rule-sets of its opponents against themselves so that when they attempt to respond to it they are doing exactly what the Daemon wants them to do. The Daemon’s proxies resemble everything from multi-national corporations to Global Guerillas and are sometimes, willing, sometimes unwilling and very often unaware.
For 5GW thinkers this is a great opportunity to see some 5GW thinking in (if only fictional) action. Truly, a must have for the 5GW bookshelf. There are that many lessons to be learned, and examples to be illustrated upon. For those who are not 5GW thinkers, this is just, plainly put, a really excellent book. One of the best reads I’ve had in a long time.