In 2011, I published a fictional novel called “Boy Meets Girl, The End” that explored love and intimacy in relationships, focusing on the disparate and often insular cultures that men and women emerge from and perpetuate in their personal lives. In 2017, I hope to be publishing a new book that expands these themes into a broader, more sociological perspective, following the next generation of Cecils and Lindas through their emergence into a future of technological innovation, institutional upheaval and social reconstruction.
I’ve always had a very strong love/hate relationship with “The Future“; influenced by my relatives’ interest in the mystical arts and my own delving into the enigmatic works of the Bible (especially the Book of Revelation), Nostradamus and various classic authors (especially George Orwell in “1984“), I believed (intensely, emphatically) that the world would be “coming to an end” within my lifetime – and after learning more about history and politics as a teenager, definitely before I was 25. When I (finally!) graduated from college at that age in 1993, newly single and already burning out from my still-young social work career, I made the first of several major transplantations in my life by moving from the Philly suburbs to metropolitan Boston. I figured if I didn’t have much time, I might as well live how I wanted to (instead of how I was expected to) – but even as I outgrew many of my old superstitions, I never seemed to be able to completely let go of the doomsday scenario in the back of my psyche. You can probably guess that the end of 1999 was an exciting event for me (Y2K was the icing on the cake) – but something really changed in me that night. Or should I say, that morning – January 1, 2000, standing in the middle of Boston Common, with huge screens showing people celebrating around the world, the life and love emanating from everyone altering my perspective like nothing else could. I was a new man, on a new mission, and the result was another move (this time to San Francisco) that led me directly to where I am today.
The new book’s main character, nicknamed “Satta“, follows a path of self discovery as he makes his own way around the world – but his story plays out much differently than mine. That’s because he has to deal with two ominous forces that I hope I never have to face: a coalition of superpower states that are intent on dominating the world (acronymed NAACO) and an artificial intelligence they are collectively developing and utilizing (or, is it the other way around?) that is on the verge of “consciousness“. Along the way Satta’s youthful idealism will be consumed in the collective rage of an international revolutionary movement struggling to survive, until an overwhelmingly vivid dream opens his eyes to the universal challenge every human being faces – inside our own minds.
BMGTE began when I fictionalized a couple of my personal experiences and then built a story around them – kind of like how a DJ takes a crate full of records and builds a mix into its own musical tale. This time around, the world I’m writing about had to be created first – and that meant doing a lot of research about the future. It’s been nothing short of exciting and frightening as I discover that many of the things that I thought I’d never see in person (like organic computing, or technologically telekinetic interactivity, or free energy, for example) are either currently being worked on or already here; we are at the dawn of the new “Hybrid Age“, as Ayesha Khanna points out in this interview:
and Ray Kurzweil breaks down in this documentary:
The end result for me is the recognition that life is changing in fundamentally profound ways much faster and more comprehensively than ever before; the world I grew up in, which was so foreign to my parent’s generation, will seem nearly unrecognizable to our children and grandchildren, as they perceive and interact with their digitized senses and bodies in a way only a fictional novel can attempt to detail in our relatively unsophisticated technological world of 2017. And what better way for me to expand my bibliography and challenge my own presumptions about the universe than to confront, once again, the portentous subject of the future. It’s a project I was seemingly destined to take on.
It won’t all be about technology and science though; politics, religion/spirituality, philosophy, and other institutions of normative social influence will also take center stage as Satta comes into his own. And like the first novel, it won’t all be so serious – but this is the book I’ve been waiting to write most of my life, and I hope to challenge myself as much as the reader to expand our present perspective and view the world with a new vision of what “life” is. And then maybe the future won’t be so scary after all – or, at least we’ll be better prepared for it.