Insidious horizons: Hacked Future

‘The future’s bright… Utopian in fact… No, really it is…”

Erm… or then again, maybe it’s not as bright as it seemed in December last year when that jolly little quote above was the opening lines of a blog/review of K R Baucherel’s first novel ‘Bitcoin Hurricane’. Reading her second novel ‘Hacked future’ I noticed a darker tinge to the horizon. A future that may seem bright, but has some insidious elements to it. Elements that made me itch a little in uncomfortable ways, because in common with the previous outing of her SimCavalier, white hat hacker protagonist, the future is one that is real and all too possible.

Cameron Silvera’s world is one that has faced the challenges we face today and come out the other side. Burgundy grapes are grown on the south facing slopes of the North Yorkshire Moors, English summers are no longer a slightly less wet weekend in July, Esports have become as big a draw as real sports, and air travel has become a rarity, while private cars have been replaced by fleets of driverless vehicles, and everyone has an id-chip in their hand, e-wallets of bitcoins, smart fridges, and the sky is full of delivery drones… And all this is only twenty or so years in the future… Which would sound farfetched to someone who had not been born in the seventies and followed the technology wave all the way up for the last few decades.

Image result for Insidious horizons: Hacked Future

It’s not a far-fetched world, its a world we are marching towards. Baucherel is a futurist, not a fantasist, and while this may not be the shape of the world in another couple of decades, I would not want to bet against it being something that closely resembles it. Indeed that’s one of the main strengths of both novels, this is a future you can see, you can feel in the wind, this is the shape of things to come and feels very real because of it. But it is also a little bit darker than it first seems if you look at it a little closer…

It’s an insidious thing this future, not least because of the way Baucherel writes it. On face value, everything seems bright, everything seems good. The world has coped with the problems of global warming and new technology well. Things are on the face of it all bright and shiny, and the author manages to make it feel that way, most of the time. But once in a while, there is something else. A little niggle, something unsettling, a little itch you can’t quite scratch. There is something about this future that is not altogether as wholesome as Baucherel make it seem on the surface. And that is a neat trick, one that is hard to pull off. Anyone can do that in a dystopia if the world is grim enough and dark enough. But to do that in what on the surface is a utopian vision and do it with a subtle touch. That’s something else entirely.

Take those chips I mentioned. Little bio-tagged chips under the skin, giving you access to your accounts, opening your doors. Tracking you, logging information about you, information uploaded to insurance agencies who set premiums based on data, what you eat, how much exercise you get, what vaccinations you have had…  Household cupboards restrict access to cookies if you’ve had too much junk food, so as not to void your insurance… Health insurance based on real-time information, so no cookie for you unless you sign a waiver to increase your premiums…

Who would agree to a chip like that… Yet if access to everything you can imagine is tied to your chip, why kids will get there first chips fitted at school, particularly if the school’s security systems are keyed to chips rather than access cards… And once you have one, well you’re in the system, but at least there are plenty of apps for it, and all your friends have one… Besides who would miss-use data like that…

Insidious isn’t it…

As I say, what makes these novels fun and interesting is the very real future they envision. Baucherel really is a futurist, working with new technologies and the new tech community. So while this is science fiction, it is not far from science fact, merely an extension of technology today into the future.

Hacked Future picks up where the previous novel ended, and flows neatly into a new story as involving and interesting as the last. It will keep you guessing, and you’ll probably be wrong. My own guesses as to where things might go were scarier perhaps than where this story takes you, but I suspect that is because I was seeing insidious things that are yet to come in the next novel, and the next… Because the future for Cameron Silvera has only just got started, which is good, as I am looking forward to the next instalment already, as that bright future starts to look a little darker all the time… While remaining so real, so ground in the possible, and so well written that it is easy to forget your reading about a future that has not happened yet, it feels like a contemporary thriller, while all the time it is slipping further under your skin, till you look up at 4 in the morning and wonder if you have been reading a vision of the future at all, or just the world your going to wake up into sometime soon… Now that is the sign of a good writer…

Anyway, read the opening few pages yourself and see where the future takes you, its closer than you think…

 

I also interviewed K R Baucherel a few weeks ago if you want further insights into her novels and writing in general. LINK TO INTERVIEW 

A final note, a question that is mildly irreverent I know. But one that this novel also inspired on a dark insomnia beset four in the morning a few nights ago.

Do grasshoppers breath?

If you want that explained, why you’ll have to read the novel yourself… won’t you

 

Mark

This entry was posted in amreading, book reviews, books, fiction, goodreads, indie, indie novels, insomnia, nanowrimo, opinion, pointless things of wonderfulness, reads, sci-fi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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