3 New Novels About the Dangers of Technology
While you’re thinking about buying that new technological gadget for the holidays, you may also want to look your way toward that most analog of gifts, a novel. The three new releases in this week’s book club introduce us to varying degrees of technical dystopia, as new technologies make their characters question their life choices, live out re-educating punishments, and turn into easily controlled mobs via a simple virus. They serve as cautionary tales for our digitally dependent present. (But, okay, you can get them on an e-reader.)
“Hereby, entered on this 19th day June NAS-23 in the 16th Federal District, Eastern-Atlantic States, a warrant for the arrest, detention, reassignment and sentencing of STROHL, ADRIANE S., 17, daughter of ERIC and MADELEINE STROHL, 3911 N. 17th St., Pennsboro, N.J., on seven counts of Treason-Speech and Questioning of Authority in violation of Federal Statutes 2 and 7. Signed by order of Chief Justice H.R. Sedgwick, 16th Federal District.”
We’ve all had a case of the “what-ifs” before: What if I hadn’t made that choice? What if I’d gone to a different school, moved to a different city, married a different person? But what if you could actually find out what would have happened? Amy Reed lives in Silicon Valley with her unemployed journalist husband, Dan, and their three sons, including a pair of young identical twins. Her busy life running the household is supplemented by the PR work she does for Donny, a Stanford junior and son of her college roommate. Donny, like everyone else, runs a tech company that touts new advances such as Invisible E-nk, emails that disappear after you’ve read them so there’s no chance of a paper trail for your online behavior. But while E-nk has Snapchat to contend with, nobody has anything quite like Furrier.com.
“The Senator donned his half moon reading glasses, and peered once more at the patterned surface. The image appeared to shift and move as he looked at it. He grimaced. ‘This some kind of joke?’ At that instant, deep inside the Senator’s brain, a microscopic array of vermilion energy coalesced. It started to storm. Molecular lightning began to fire amid the neurons of his medulla oblongata, disrupting normal behaviours and activity. Jim Townsend opened his mouth in surprise. He gripped his chest, as if attempting to clutch the sharp, stabbing pain that had manifested there. The Senator mouthed seven silent syllables, forming a wordless question. He dropped to his knees. He then fell forward, slammed his face into the snow, kicked once, and was still… The man in rose-coloured glasses calmly plucked the card from the dead Senator’s fingers and pocketed it. He then returned to his idling car and drove away, into the gathering night.”