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.
What we say – review by Nikki Mason:
Fluence is a fascinating but uncomfortable read – a 1984 for the modern era.
The story unfolds in an alternative London where interaction with social media is essential if you wish to maintain a decent quality of life. Everyone must work hard and everyone must constantly post updates to try and stay in the ‘influence’ game. All movements are monitored and everyone is clawing as many fluence points as they can before their yearly positions are decided.
The book explores some complex and intriguing ideas – ideas that surely aren’t too farfetched. If I’m honest, then I found none of the characters terribly likeable but this is something I suspect the writer is aiming for. Amber is too ambitious and callous, doing anything, however morally corrupt, to work her way up the ladder. Martin is too desperate and pathetic, while his son Max is quick-tempered and demeaning.
But this is a system that can never bring out the best in people. The world Oram creates is totally real; it’s almost tangible. This feels like a warning tale and it sent shivers down my spine. Not an easy read but thought-provoking.
About the author: Stephen Oram
I write novels and flash fiction that are designed to set off small firecrackers of thought to light the world slightly differently inside your head!
I’ve been a hippie-punk, a religious-squatter and a bureaucrat-anarchist; I thrive on contradictions and am a great believer in being slightly askew from the crowd. There are all sorts of ways of doing that – by being on the fringes of society, by travelling to other cultures or simply by being tipsy during the day.
I write contemporary dystopian fiction set in a recognizable near-future. I love taking reality, nudging it out of kilter and seeing what happens.
Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism.