Fluence – Stephen Oram – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.

Amber is ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has.

Set in a speculative near-future London, Fluence is a satirical story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It’s the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.


This was one of those books that I picked up to read and review on an impulse without knowing anything about either the genre, the author or the narrative. And to be brutally fair to the author and his efforts, it was quite a good attempt at a readable book in the science fiction genre.

As can be gleaned from the blurb, the action in this book takes place in a near-future dystopian London, where the ‘big corporations’ divide people into various ‘social strata’ based on their ‘influence’ rating among their peers. And as if things couldn’t get crazy enough with this premise, there are the ‘outliers’ who have voluntarily opted out of the ‘strata system’ and then there are the ‘reds’, the people at the very top of the system who manipulate the entire system for their own gains.

Set in the middle of this melee are the stories of Amber Walgace and Martin Brown, two people who work for the same department in the Bureaucracy, and both of whom are quite desperate to make it to the next strata. They only have one week to go before the Annual Pay Day when everybody’s strata positions are re-calibrated based on their fluence. And this book deals with incidents in their lives during the course of this one week.

While Amber is presented as this ‘go-getter’ who would do anything and even cut corners to make it to the next level, Martin seems to be suffering from an overdose of empathy for his fellow human beings and almost all his actions end up damaging his fluence and thereby ruining his chances of moving up the strata. But then Amber has her well laid out plans sabotaged by a mysterious blackmailer and she faces her fair share of hurdles in her last week before Pay Day.

Do Amber and Martin make it to the next level, are they willing to make the necessary sacrifices, are there bigger forces at work moving behind the scenes to control the movements across the various strata…..these are some of the questions that the narrative answers.

What I liked about this book was it pretty much holds up a mirror to the new gen fad of youngsters wanting more and more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ of their social networking statuses. In fact I would go far enough to say that this book reads more like a science fiction horror story of social networking addiction gone horribly wrong. How big corporations piggy back on social media addiction and nymphomaniac tendencies of youngsters nowadays, how they manage to manipulate our minds into believing in the social strata, how they manage to ultimately control our entire lives forms a major part of the overarching theme that is dealt with in the book.

What however put me off about the book was its length. After setting up the initial premise, the characters and the arc, the author could have opted for a tauter, tighter narrative and infused the proceedings with a lot more urgency than he did. And the net result is that the book ended up being a little draggy and laggy in parts which somewhat spoilt the whole experience for me.

Read this book if you are looking to read something radically different from what you have in the science fiction genre.

Click here to purchase the book from Amazon [Link].


A review copy of this book was provided to me by b00kr3vi3ws in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…


If the above blurb and the cover haven’t already given away what the book deals with, then you readers seriously need to re-read most of the other books written by this author. Here’s the big reveal which happens almost 30 odd pages in the book – the great zoo of China is a zoo which houses dragons.

Now that the big reveal has been put out of the way, let’s get on with the actual review itself. I personally became a big fan of Matthew Reilly right from the first few pages of the first book of his that I read Temple, and true to his reputation the author manages to churn out yet another edge-of-the-seat thriller with this one as well. And in fact, in an interview right at the end of this book as well, the author goes on to state that this was his objective when writing the book, and I would say that he succeeds on that count.

That being said, there is only so much of action that one can take, especially when it is so mindless and numbing and all pervasive. There are only so many things that readers can digest all at once, and with The Great Zoo of China I would go far enough to say that the author has pushed his and the readers’ imagination just a tad too far, probably even over the edge. While I personally suspend my disbelief when reading such fantastic novels, the fact remains that there are limits to this suspension as well, and this book probably reached them.

Imagine this, Jurassic Park meets Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit series of movies. Actually make that 200 odd Smaugs, only meaner and more destructive in their nature. Put them in a constrained space for a while, make them smart enough to plan an escape and put a few innocent people in their way. This in a nutshell is what the book is all about. If you liked Jurassic Park, the movie, then you will like this book. Trust me, when you visualize all that is happening in this book, visual references from the movie will help you more than just a little bit.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only if you are a fan of Michael Crichton and the genre of books he dealt with. Even hardcore fans of Matthew Reilly have not been too kind with their reviews of this particular book of his.

CLAIR = Clean Air

Disclaimer: The following post is a work of fiction; science fiction even, given that neither am I technically qualified enough to be making these assumptions nor am I knowledgeable enough about the various types of air pollution to even dare attempting to resolve the issue. But, hey, as I mentioned before, this is a work of fiction and here goes.


It has been only around two decades and a couple of years since that fateful day when field tests of “Clair” were declared successful and commercial production of the same was initiated by governments around the world. With the US and UK governments taking the initiative, showing belief in the invention and subsidizing the entire production costs of Clair for the first five years, it was just a matter of time before the rest of the world followed suit and began production. After all, the future of the entire world and the survival of the human race was at stake here.

Clair, I must admit that the name gives away the very purpose for which it was founded. CLean AIR – CLAIR. Not getting into the technical details of the product, the concept goes thus.

NaNoSpheresEssentially small hollow polycarbonate balls around 4 cm in diameter filled with nano particles capable of sucking up almost all types of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) which mostly consisted of chemicals and other items which pollute the air, Clair would ensure that when the nano particles were filled to the brim, they would gently descend down to the ground. And even if by chance the larger sphere containing 24 of these balls landed in water bodies (such as seas, rivers, etc) the fact that the sphere was airtight with the polluted nano particles carefully sealed inside meant that they would not escape into the air again.

GammaRayCannonAs for disposal of the polluted nano particles, the various gamma ray facilities built specifically for this purpose across the globe would ensure that the spheres were disintegrated into thin air leaving behind no traces of their earlier composition.

With Clair, my team had essentially revolutionized the way air pollution would be tackled ensuring that over the course of time, we would clean up all existing air pollution while ensuring that alternative modes of preventing and reducing further air pollution continued to be pursued.

What seemed like a wild dream back in 2000 when I conceived the idea stands vindicated and is a true game-changer as far as reducing air pollution levels in our atmosphere goes.


This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to imagine, in great detail, an invention that could help reverse pollution and describe how it works and how it would help save the planet.