In Adam Roberts’ book The This, the titular ‘This’ refers to the name of a new social network, a sort of hands-free Twitter/Meta nightmare scenario: all you need is an implant in the roof of your mouth. From this means of integration, your world will never be the same.
Narratives that question our reliance on AI and technological advances are a staple of storytelling, from The Matrix to Ready Player One and Two, 1984 and a multitude of others. What do we sacrifice for the chance to be part of something – our privacy, our sense of self? The This is the latest tech company with cult-like status, to the point where its users no longer resemble themselves – and beyond, to threatening individuality as we know it. Yet it’s seen as mostly harmless. People ask fewer questions when offered something for free.
As The This jumps through time, we see a worrying glimpse of humanity’s future – the futility of being human in a technologically advanced war. Comradery is formed amongst soldiers only for their lives to be snuffed out in minutes. The closest thing we get to a returning narrative lies with Rich, a writer in London who becomes entangled with The This, the interface hardwired into his brain.
As Roberts’ book progresses, the idea widens until we are faced with intergalactic communication and parallel universes. Lots of heady big-concept fun, in short.
The This, Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Price: £16.99. Info: here
words BILLIE INGRAM SOFOKELOUS
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