Miles Jensen has a confession to make. To the "true believers", he is the faithful guardian of a website devoted to the late Pete Novotnik, founder of a future-obsessed internet cult. But Miles is not a "true believer" - he only got involved out of a desire to rekindle an affair with Pete's wife, Kay.
Hoping to shock the true believers into a crisis of faith, he decides to reveal his true colours and his dubious role in Pete's death. But when a journalist starts to investigate, Miles is forced to confront the truth about his motives for wanting to undermine the cult and his feelings for Kay.
Thought-provoking with flashes of dry humour, "In the future..." is a dark tale of jealousy, belief and the utopian dreams we project onto technology.
- "[T]houghtful, intriguing and worthwhile" - 5 stars (Tom Lichtenberg - click here for full review)
- 2 other readers on Smashwords have also given it 5 star reviews. All 3 reviews are reasonably detailed and should give you good sense of what the novel is about (and whether it is likely to be your "cup of tea").
- "[F]resh and interesting… a high quality work independently published by a literary writer" (Lisa Thatcher - click here for full review)
The following are comments on the first few chapters from members of the peer review site youwriteon.com - although not reviews of the entire novel, I have included them here as an indication of reactions from a wider range of readers:
- "well written and teeming with interesting ideas"
- "very interesting and completely novel theme"
- "very readable...original and amusing"
- "an entertaining read"
- "fluent [and] witty"
- "fantastic... one of the best I have seen in a while.".
One of the ideas explored in the book is the notion of the Technological Singularity, which has recently started to get more mainstream attention (there are even several Singularity movie/documentary projects). You can find out more about this and various related ideas at the websites listed below.
Personally I have a slightly schizophrenic attitude towards the Singularity - a mixture of fascination and scepticism. If you find yourself in need of a little light relief from all this techno-utopianism, I strongly recommend that you check out Charlie Kam's song "I am the very model of a Singularitarian" (the last link below) - it's probably funnier if you've had a quick look at some of the other material first:
- Wikipedia entry on Technological Singularity
- Singularity Institute - What is the Singularity?
- The Singularity is Near (film/documentary)
- The Transcendent Man (documentary)
- The Singularity Film
- Aleph.se on the Singularity
- Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence
- The Singularity Hub
- I am the very model of a Singularitarian
Internet cults etc
The internet cult in the book is a purely fictional creation - so far as I'm aware, the Singularity has yet to inspire a movement with the exact same beliefs and practices.
It is a "composite" inspired by individual elements taken from various cults, quasi-religions and other spiritual movements, ranging from Aum Shinrikyo (at the more extreme end of the spectrum) through to the Autonomous Individuals Network, the Extropians, the Rosicrucians and Gnosticism. I was also influenced by some of the ideas in Erik Davis' book Techgnosis (subtitled "Myth, magic and mysticism in the age of information").
The novel also touches on "revenge effects" or the unintended consequences of technology. For a more in-depth discussion of these issues, see Edward Tenner's book Why Things Bite Back.
But all these ideas form the backdrop to a story which is essentially about our tendency to believe what we want to believe - and the lengths we're prepared to go to in order to preserve those precious illusions. It may also be the first ever novel to have several hundred words devoted to the intelligence of the blind cave fish and the occasionally carnivorous behaviour of the sucker fish or plecostomus (two species which are poorly represented in contemporary fiction).