There was a time when novels about dystopian futures were pessimistic extrapolations from the present into worst-case scenarios that served as a warning, a sort of Bogey Man threat to make us pause and reconsider. I mean, who, reading ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘ back in 1985, saw it as anything other than a nightmare born of our darkest fears? It was scary but it was also very unlikely to happen. It would require the collapse of the separation of Church and State and the removal of many hard-won women’s rights and the emergence of a narcissistic male culture that demeans women in the name of God and The Land Of The Free. How could that possibly happen?
Times have changed. Dystopias now read more like strong possibilities that we have to struggle to avert rather than outlier events that we needed worry too much about.
This week’s hooks visit two different nightmares. One is a book by a British writer who is using a noirish detective story to explore a future where power is concentrated in the hands of an almost superhuman elite. The other is a book by an American writer who is using a techno-thriller to look at the downside of power being accumulated by a global online company.
‘Titanium Noir’ by Nick Harkaway (2023)
The title of this book appealed to me as soon as I saw it. I’ve always enjoyed books that blend Science Fiction with Detective Fiction. Isaac Asimov’s ‘I, Robot’ is an example of the kind of story I have in mind. I think that moving from Detective Story to NOIR Detective Story cranks up the volume by looking at the future through a retro lens. I’m thinking ‘Blade Runner’ here.
I’m hoping that ‘Titanium Noir’ will give me a good mystery, told in a distinctive style while drilling down into the corruption and dehumanisation that comes with excessive power
‘The Warehouse’ by Rob Hart (2019)
Back when I worked as a consultant, specialising in AI and digital transformation, this was one of slides I used to get a conversation started:
Call me a control freak with trust issues, but the more I learnt about Cloud computing, the more I wanted my data on a hard drive that I own.
‘The Warehouse’ is built to play on the fears of people like me who don’t believe anything comes for free so…”If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”
I’m hoping that the technology will be credible, that the characters will be interesting and the pacing will maintain the tension but… I’d probably settle for throwing virtual rotten tomatoes at Silicon Valley billionaire narcissists.
4 thoughts on “#FridayReads 2023-05-26 – A Dystopian Futures Week – ‘Titanium Noir’ and ‘The Warehouse’”
I love a good dystopian! I haven’t heard of either of these books. The most recent ones I’ve read were more climate disasters and the powers that be culling the population due to available resources. I’m eyeing off a few sci-fi/dystopias for later in the year.
If you like climate fiction with an edge, I recommend ‘The Water Knife’ by Paolo Bacigalupi and the ‘Loosed Upon The World’ short story collection edited by John Jospeh Adams
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Thanks for the suggestions, they look interesting. I am trying more to focus on Australian books in this genre too, I find the stories more relatable because I’m familiar with the topography… and there don’t seem to be a lot of those books hyped out there in the blogosphere.
I have some on my Wishlist. I’ve held back because the way they’re written about makes them sound a little too worthy but I’m still thinking about them
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
Ghost Species by James Bradley
The Animals In That Country by Laura Jean Mackay