The Future Is Yours

When the folks at Del Rey contacted me last January to ask me if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing Dan Frey's new Silicon Valley scifi techno thriller, my curiosity was piqued. The press release announced that HBO Max will produce a show titled The Future based on Frey’s novel following two best friends as they invent Silicon Valley’s Pandora’s Box: a computer that can connect to the Internet one year from now.

I discovered that The Future Is Yours interrogates how big tech algorithms quietly and insidiously shape our beliefs, opinions, and—as we saw in the Capitol a few weeks back—ultimately, our actions. In 2018, Dan found himself transfixed watching Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of Congress about the rampant misinformation circulating, unregulated, on Facebook. The biggest takeaway Dan had from those hearings was not the hubris of a Silicon Valley wunderkind, but instead the frightening ignorance of those interrogating him. So he wondered: what would it look like if a truly revolutionary sci-fi technology were dropped into the world we live in today?

Based on all that and the advance praise garnered by the book, how could I not want to at least give it a shot and see if it was as good as it sounded? And I'm sure glad I did, because I went through this novel in just two sittings!

Here's the blurb:

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

As per the blurb, The Future Is Yours is an epistolary novel. Which means that it is written as a series of documents such as emails, text messages, various transcripts, newspaper articles, letters, Tweets, blog posts, etc. Given the premise, I was a bit worried about such an unusual structure. But in the end, it worked superbly and made for quick and compulsive reading. Frey's modern take on the epistolary novel shows that you can write thought-provoking science fiction that's big on concepts and ideas with this sort of unorthodox narrative structure. In many ways, it's this framework that makes the book so page-turning.

I also enjoyed how Dan Frey "dumbed down" the technology and the science at the heart of this story with Ben Boyce's presentations to potential investors. Instead of info-dumps, you get a more dymamic approach that works perfectly well with Ben's character. And although The Future Is Yours remains a techno thriller that plays with your mind, deep down it's more of an exploration of friendship and ambition between two very disparate friends.

Indeed, it's the dysfunctional relationship between these two college buddies that drives the story behind The Future Is Yours. Ben Boyce is a selfish glory hound, seeking fame and fortune, and realizing that his friend's discovery could change the world as we know it and make them richer than they can imagine. He's the face behind the product and the driving force behind the enterprise. Making him black brought absolutely nothing to the tale, however, and I wonder why the author decided to do so. Making Adhi Chaudry Indian truly added layers to the second protagonist, however. This depressive introvert genius has a hard time coping with their sudden success. And the more he glimpses into the future ahead, the more he realizes that perhaps this new technology shouldn't hit the market. There is a supporting cast and these people do have an impact on the plot, chief among them Ben's wife Leila, but these two take center stage and run the show for the better part of the novel.

Some readers may find the open ending somewhat off-putting, but I felt that it brought this story to a satisfying end. And it makes you want to reread the whole thing all over again!

The Future Is Yours is a thoughtful, compelling, and entertaining read!

The final verdict: 8.5/10

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Follow this link to read an extract from the book.

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