BANDWIDTH

After two years in the works, my new novel Bandwidth is now available. Bandwidth is a science fiction thriller featuring hackers and spies grappling over the geopolitics of climate change, with a group of techno-utopian activists hijacking the global feed to manipulate world leaders. Fast-paced, lush, and philosophical, it will suck you in and stick with you long after you reach the end. Brad Feld calls it "spectacular near-term science fiction" and Ramez Naam describes it as "an all-too-plausible thriller of power, morality, and global consequences."

The rough draft grew in fits and starts. This was a turbulent time in the United States, and it was impossible to escape the chaos and outrage of the presidential election. Technology played a disturbing and divisive role in that election, defying the starry-eyed pronouncements all too common in Silicon Valley. Judging by the current news cycle, there is still ample material for investigative journalists to dig their teeth into.

But great novels offer something different from great reporting. Fiction shines when it entertains and challenges us at the same time. It transports us. It offers an opportunity to move beyond intellectual debate and play out ideas in the gritty, intimate, messy context of people’s actual lives. It forces us to put things in perspective and to ask hard questions even if we don’t have ready answers.

If we are the stories we tell ourselves, what happens when someone else controls the narrative? If every detail of your life was algorithmically engineered, would you even be able to trust yourself? What does it take for a cynic to rediscover authenticity? How is technology changing the structure and exercise of power? When absolute data corrupts absolutely, what price would you pay to change the world?

These were some of the recurring questions that surfaced again and again as I worked my way through Bandwidth chapter by chapter, scene by scene, word by word. They are questions I am forced to consider every day when I succumb to the distraction of social media, find myself ignoring injustice because it all just seems to be too much, or contemplate just how out of touch our social institutions are from a world of accelerating innovation.

These are dark thoughts, and there is a dark vein running through Bandwidth. But whenever I struggle, I try to channel the protagonist's passion for history. I’d rather live in 2018 than in 1918. Or 1818. Or 1718. Or any other time.

By historical standards, most people alive today enjoy miracles that the emperors of old could only dream of (and likely didn’t). We are a lucky and privileged few, and whatever corruption and injustice we seek to overcome isn’t new or unique. And that leads us to a challenging conclusion.

The world is what we make it.

If we throw up our hands when the going gets tough, we get what we deserve. So take a deep breath, do some gentle stretching, and make the world a better place. Do a favor for a stranger. Be kind when instinct calls for harshness. Question your assumptions. Make good art. Tell your loved ones how grateful you are to have them in your life. Lend a hand to those in need. Take real risks to do the right thing.

And, of course, read Bandwidth! Books live and die based on word-of-mouth. You are the best readers that any writer could hope for and Bandwidth's future is in your capable hands.

Selected praise for Bandwidth:

"Eliot Peper’s Bandwidth is a riveting novel exploring the dark side of feeds and geopolitics... an engaging, electric read that forces us to confront the state of the world today." -TechCrunch

“A thrilling and all-too-realistic future in which the ubiquitous ‘feed’ — an immersive algorithm used by millions — becomes a tool for high-stakes blackmail, with climate change hanging in the balance.” -Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor

"The techno-thriller novel that we need right now, Bandwidth explores a terrifying world where we are all consumed by 'the feed.'" -Ars Technica

"Captivating near-term science fiction." -Farnam Street

“A smart techno-thriller that plays out the near future of data immersion, the digital divide, and climate change with mind-expanding effectiveness.” -Malka Older, author of Infomocracy

“A very credibly rendered near future… Peper guides his story with a sure hand, lacing its narrative with issues and references that resonate powerfully in the age of net neutrality, algorithms, and social media hacks.” -Publisher's Weekly

"Bandwidth is science fiction perfectly timed for the crazy world we live in these days. Highly recommended, even if parts feel like they hit a little too close to home." -Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt

"What. A. Ride. A perfect near-future world that feels chillingly real. Bandwidth will make my top books of the year without blinking an eye." -Brian's Book Blog

"Eliot Peper's Bandwidth is an exciting, unpredictable, high-tech espionage thriller." -Templeton Gate

"Avoids taking the easy 'outs' and subverts expectations. Bandwidth moves to center stage real world issues that we’re all living through right now: global warming, climate refugees, the subversion of democracy." -Open Buddha

Read Bandwidth today.

THE UNCOMMON SERIES gets a new look

My first novel came out four years ago and quickly grew into a trilogy. The Uncommon Series is a fast-paced, deeply-researched near-future thriller that follows the irrepressible Mara Winkel as she leads her brand new tech startup from garage to IPO and gets caught up in an international conspiracy along the way. The series remains the #1 top-rate financial thriller on Amazon and wrestles with the challenges of entrepreneurship and the social implications of technology. A few months back, I talked to the original cover designer about updating the visual identity of the series. The results blew me away and we "stealth" launched them last week.

Check out the gorgeous new editions and let me know what you think. The design is based on a flow snake fractal and the "static" type was originally the product of an error in the design software that we immediately fell in love with. You can see more details about the art direction and side-by-sides with the original covers here. The designer also published a wonderfully granular essay detailing every step of the cover redesign process here.

If you haven't read Mara's story yet, now's the time.

The Mental Gymnastics of Space Travel

In the latest Incoming Transmission over at Scout, I talk to novelist Meg Howrey about the inner lives of astronauts. Read the interview right here.

Meg shares many thought-provoking insights into the human experience of astronauts, the psychology of peak performance, and the cultural power of the final frontier. Her novel, The Wanderers, is a deep, awe-inspiring, and thoughtful story about three astronauts preparing to go to Mars (I featured it in my reading recommendation newsletter). As her protagonists struggle through a brutal seventeen month training exercise that simulates every aspect of the impending journey, Howrey illuminates the hearts and minds of these extraordinary people with clarity and precision. In doing so, she shows that our dreams of exploring space reveal as much about human nature as they do about the cosmos.

You can find more Incoming Transmissions from visionary authors like Malka Older, Cory Doctorow, and Kim Stanley Robinson here.

BANDWIDTH is now available for preorder

My new novel, Bandwidth, is now available for preorder. Bandwidth is a science fiction thriller about hackers and spies grappling over the geopolitics of tech and climate change. Imagine Mr. Robot meets The Americans, with techno utopian activists hijacking the global feed to influence the psychology of world leaders. Bandwidth comes out May 1.

I put my heart and soul into this book, synthesizing everything I've learned about the social implications of accelerating technological change, the hidden systems that shape our world, and why history's movers and shakers do what they do.

My dearest hope is that the result is a compelling adventure that will suck you in, challenge your assumptions, and stick with you long after you finish it. But don't take my word for it. The Verge ran an exclusive excerpt and two of my very favorite authors have said some nice things about Bandwidth already (which gives me serious fanboy jitters):

“A smart techno-thriller that plays out the near future of data immersion, the digital divide, and climate change with mind-expanding effectiveness.” -Malka Older, author of Infomocracy

“An all-too-plausible thriller of power, morality, and global consequences. What would you do to wield influence? How far would you go to wield it for good? Bandwidth’s answers may disturb you.” -Ramez Naam, author of Nexus

Preorder Bandwidth right here. I can't wait to hear what you think of the story when it comes out in May. In the meantime, I'm hard at work drafting the sequel.

(If you're a reviewer/media and want to read an advance review copy of Bandwidth, email me.)

There is no better gift than a good book

Books contain the distilled wisdom of humanity's greatest thinkers. Books challenge us to expand our horizons and reevaluate our most deeply held assumptions. Books invite us to explore distant galaxies, face our fears, find meaning in our lives, unlock our imaginations, and slip inside someone else's skin.

When you give someone a book, you're offering them an entire world.

Season Finale of Cumulus is Live on Bound

Two years ago, I received a cold email from a guy named Matt Hannus. Matt was a voracious reader and veteran of the gaming industry. He was starting a company called Bound to develop a new format for reading fiction on the internet. He asked whether I'd be open to seeing one of my novels adapted.

Matt's project fascinated me. On the internet, we overwhelming read nonfiction: blog posts, news articles, essays, etc. But we buy and read many more novels than nonfiction books. Why is there such a dramatic gap in our reading habits? Everyone has a pet explanation, but I was curious to see whether Bound could create a format that could empower internet fiction. So we arranged for them to adapt my science fiction thriller, Cumulus.

Cumulus explores a near future San Francisco Bay Area ravaged by economic inequality and persistent surveillance. Popular Science calls it, "An intriguing, fast-paced thriller that looks closely at the most pressing issues facing the nation: a growing wealth gap, corrupt governments and an ever-increasing surveillance apparatus that threatens the country's very character. Cumulus holds up a mirror to ourselves, and shows just how scary the world could be right around the corner."

Matt and his team spent two years working nonstop on their app and Bound officially launched this past summer. Cumulus was a part of their launch slate alongside series from science fiction legend Neal Stephenson, award-winning game writer Matt Entin, former Pixar and Telltale Games creative Stephan Bugaj, and linguist Nick Farmer, creator of the Belter conlang for SyFy's The Expanse. Bound breaks up long stories into short serialized episodes, almost like a TV show, and pairs them with art and extras that enrich the reading experience.

Bound's adaptation of Cumulus deepens the world of the story with extensive sourcebook material and brings it to life with captivating art. Bound readers have many things at their fingertips that no other format offers: never-before-seen biographical details of the protagonists, investigative reports on the future history of economic inequality, press coverage that illuminates how Cumulus became the dominant tech monopoly, interludes that give a glimpse into the hearts and minds of secondary characters, and transcripts of clandestine conversations. If you loved the book, this is a perfect complement.

Bound has been releasing episodes of Cumulus over the past few months and today marks the official season finale. I've had a blast following the series and I'd love to hear what you think.

You can download the iOS Bound app for free right here and check it out.

The At-Home Gene Editing Revolution Starts Now

In the new Scout Incoming Transmission, I talk to bestselling author Daniel Suarez about the future of synthetic biology. Read the interview right here.

We discuss the scientific, economic, and political implications of CRISPR and how science fiction can illuminate the social impacts of tech. Daniel shares details on how he goes about rigorously researching his novels to make them "science fiction for scientists." And he explains how he maps out different scenarios for the near future, exploring the second and third order effects of innovation. I recently featured Daniel's latest technothriller, Change Agent, in my reading recommendation newsletter.

If you want to make sense of how biotech will change the world, you'll find his ideas provocative, compelling, and counterintuitive.

You can find more Incoming Transmissions from visionary authors like Malka Older, Cory Doctorow, Alexander Weinstein, and Kim Stanley Robinson here.