As I write this, it’s June 2022 and I’m watching on with envy as Glastonbury takes place – the ultimate music festival. Part of me is glad my legs don’t have to walk ten miles a day, it’s a whole lot more comfortable watching from the sofa, and the toilets at home are much better, but as a big live music fan, it’s gutting not to be there. My highlights have been Wet Leg and Metronomy – my particular brand of electro-guitar music.
In writing news, I’m heavily engrossed in my current work in progress – AI Defend Us – a noir sci-fi thriller. The premise is that AI has advanced to a dangerous level, and rogue tech—drones and bipedal bots—are a danger to life and property on the streets. They have only one goal: to consume power wherever they can find it.
Against this backdrop, enter Ellie—a cryptologist, who works out a way to take back control over the rogue tech, the last thing certain forces want. Think Davinci Code meets Ready Player One, and you won’t be far off.
My research into AI has been both terrifying and awe-inspiring. Although, whatever Google engineers may claim, we’re a long way from sentient tech (or sapient for that matter, as pointed out to me by the insightful David Brin), we are not far at all from armed AI systems with built-in face recognition and autonomous programming. And this is 2022. One might well imagine, as I am, that in a hundred or two hundred years, technology has evolved beyond our control, without the need for more fanciful notions like Terminators.
This is the first futuristic book I’ve written, set in the ‘real’ world – which has brought its own challenges and rewards. For one, I’ve been able to write a car chase, where a horse and cart pursuit in a fantasy setting would be slightly less intense. And it’s fun to be able to refer to real life — who’d have thought in this cobalt grey, Blade Runner style future London, that Snap Chat would have survived? On the other hand, the closer you write to reality, the more you have to get your facts right—I’ve had several discussions with experts in their fields ranging from the possible size of a fusion power unit to the likely state of flood defenses in future London (spoiler alert – they’d better be big).