Daniel Suarez's SF thriller Influx offers an unsettling reason for the apparently stagnant state of technological progress since the 1960s: over the last half-century, an increasingly tyrannical top-secret government bureau has abducted the greatest scientific minds and seized their fledgling breakthroughs. The Bureau of Technology Control sequesters humanity's most promising innovations, like unlimited energy, quantum computers and nano-machines to prevent the destructive chaos they believe such paradigm-shattering advances would cause. These hidden technologies have propelled the BTC many decades ahead of the rest of humanity, giving a handful of men god-like powers with zero accountability, even to their own government.

Eccentric physicist Jon Grady learns about the BTC's existence when he's abducted from his lab after inventing a type of anti-gravity machine. The singular triumphant moment in Grady's troubled life becomes a nightmare as he's forced to choose between continuing his research under an organization he considers morally repugnant or spending the rest of his life in "humane exile." His continual resistance lands him in Hibernity, a gruesome prison/laboratory where dissenting abducted scientists become test subjects. Even if he escapes, Grady must somehow contend with a nearly omnipotent organization led by an increasingly unstable megalomaniac.

Suarez (Daemon; Kill Decision) gives jargon-laden plausibility to the wondrous technology of Influx, and the rare muddling moments are quickly overrun by the pacing of a great thriller. Though Grady's transformation from helpless to heroic never quite completes, and other characters suffer from questionable shallowness, Influx as a whole is riveting. Fans of science fiction and thrillers will enjoy this engrossing combination of both genres. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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