So, as part of the publicity push for When the Sparrow Falls I’ve got an article up on the Tor/Forge blog on the depiction of AI in the universe of Douglas Adams and you can read it HERE.
My new novel, When the Sparrow Falls, is now available to pre-order!:
“Welcome to the Caspian Republic. The last bastion of true humanity in a world given over to artificial intelligence.
Stray from the path towards anything “machine” and the state will correct you.
When propagandist Paulo Xirau dies, and is discovered to himself be a “machine”, State Security Agent Nikolai South is given a new assignment he could hardly want less: chaperone the widow, Lily, the only “machine” visitor ever invited from the outside world, and help her determine what happened to her husband.
Nikolai knows it will be nearly impossible to complete the job without running afoul of the Party—but when he sees that Lily bears an eerie resemblance to his late wife, Nikolai stumbles on a larger plot, one that exposes all the lies he’s told himself and which may bring down the Republic for good.
WHEN THE SPARROW FALLS illuminates authoritarianism, complicity, and identity in the digital age, in a page turning, darkly-funny, frightening and touching story that recalls Philip K. Dick, John Le Carré and Kurt Vonnegut in equal measure.”
When the Sparrow Falls will be published by TOR on June 29 2021, but you can order it now from the following retailers!
The future is the present, but moreso.
This is has been the guiding principle of futurist science fiction since the genre was invented; take the current status quo and extrapolate logically and presto, you have a plausible future setting for your story. Early British sci-fi is all about the ethics and difficulty of maintaining a vast empire (don’t worry lads, won’t be a problem long term). Star Trek had space hippies and an interstellar Cold War. Eighties sci-fi is really worried about these Japanese guys. Trouble is, the course of history is less an elegant upward line and more like a panicky chihuaha on meth that keeps running off in different directions. For example: The USA and USSR are locked in an inexorable arms race that can only end with nuclear anni…
Well, the Japanese economy is an unstoppable behemoth that will crush its Western rivals and establish a new world order of corporate hegemony…
Awesome, history is over and now America as the world’s lone superpower will rule over an endless long peace…
Ah jeez, America has moved inexorably to the right and the Republicans will maintain dominance for generations, slowly turning America into a paranoid police state…
Racism is over everybody! Peace love and kumbaya for all!
This is why it’s almost impossible to write science fiction that accurately predicts the future, because the present won’t sit long enough to have its picture taken. Even the works that do get props for accurately predicting the future tend to only get certain details right while getting the rest very wrong. William Gibson came damn close to predicting the internet, but he also predicted that the world would be ruled over by several competing mega-corporations when of course in reality it’s only ruled by one.
Which is why, as a good rule of thumb, if you’re writing sci-fi you should set it far into the future so that when you are inevitably proven wrong, you’ll be long dead and no one will be there to laugh at you (unless they use their futuristic magic tech to resurrect you purely so they can laugh at you which would be incredibly petty and, going on current trends, entirely probable).
Strange Days was released in 1995 and sets its tale of sci-fi dystopia in the misty far off time of…December 1999. That’s ballsy.
And yet, it honestly feels more prescient than any science fiction film I can recall seeing.
Yeah, so I realise the movies I’m been reviewing lately have been a little more racy for a blog that rarely reviews fare rated harder than PG. Truth is, this is a review I’ve been trying to find the time to do for almost three years now (it’s one of the Joanna VR requests). This is one my friend Roger Courtney requested because he feels that it’s a ridiculously under-appreciated movie that I should review and everyone should see.
It is, I did and they should.
Let’s take a look.