How to see our world in a new light

TechCrunch interviewed me about the future extrapolated in my new novel, Breach, and the lessons I learned writing the Analog series:

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/16/how-to-see-our-world-in-a-new-light/ (paywall)

Complement with TechCrunch on Bandwidth (no paywall), ZDNet on the Analog series, and how and why I wrote Breach.

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What if a giant tech company became sovereign and democratic?

In my new novel Breach, out today, hackers and spies grapple over the future of governance. Dark, lush, and philosophical, Breach is a globe-trotting, near-future thriller brimming with intrigue and big ideas. If you're curious about how technology is changing our lives and world, you're in for a wild ride.

Pick up a copy of Breach right here.

Breach and the Analog novels have earned praise from publications like the New York Times Book Review, TechCrunch, and Ars Technica, and people like Malka Older, Cory Doctorow, and Craig Newmark. Seth Godin says, "The Analog series from Eliot Peper is simply terrific science fiction from the (very) near future–I loved all three."

Each Analog novel can be read independently, and enriches the others. ZDNet ran a thoughtful, comprehensive review of the trilogy if you want some context. Where Bandwidth extrapolates how feeds shape the geopolitics of climate change and Borderless examines how software is subverting nation-states, Breach explores what might come next—how we need to reinvent ourselves and our institutions to build a better future.

Although Breach is the third and final Analog novel, the protagonist, Emily Kim, was the first character who revealed herself to me when I began work on the series.

I was hiking through Wildcat Canyon Regional Park with my wife and our conversation teased at the edges of an amorphous story idea. I never know what particular seed will grow into a book and we talked about the invisible forces shaping world events, odd details we noticed in our lives, and speculative questions about how things might be different. It was from this strange cocktail that Emily emerged.

A teenager forced to fend for herself who develops a keen eye for the hidden rules that influence behavior, subverting them to survive and serve the powerless. A rebel with an anachronistic sense of honor who cannot blind herself to the failures of a broken system. A fighter who loves her friends as fiercely as she hates any sign of weakness in herself, who harbors the vain hope that her ruthless pursuit of perfection might help to balance out the injustice of an imperfect world.

Emily is as hard and brilliant as a polished diamond. I couldn’t write her right away. I wasn’t ready for her.

And so I did what Emily would do: I looked at the world around me, and squinted a little bit.

Technology is diverting the structure and flow of power. Computers and capital have stitched together a fractured world into a single variegated civilization, even as reactionary forces desperately try to turn back the clock. The companies that built the internet are forging global empires that Alexander the Great would never have been able to imagine. What were once scrappy startups have become geopolitical players on par with nation-states.

But with scale comes responsibility, a responsibility that digital luminaries have yet to come to terms with. The miraculous tools they’ve developed won them the reins of history, but those same reins curse them with exactly what many technologists have spent their lives trying to avoid: politics.

Technology has endowed us with superpowers, but who gets to decide what to do with them? This is the reckoning that Breach grapples with. This is the crucible that only someone like Emily could face. Someone as hard and brilliant as a diamond, whose facets transform the harsh light of suffering into coruscating rainbows, who learns that being broken is just the beginning.

If we are to avoid a future of disenfranchisement, we must invent new ways to grant as many people as possible as much agency as possible over their lives. We must take the power we’ve earned, and share it. In doing so, we might just find that ceding control can be more liberating than seizing it, that perfection is a mirage, that civilization is a work in progress, that the universe demands nothing more than we choose to give.

I chose to give Emily everything I have, and I hope that her journey will give you a small seed to carry with you that might one day grow into a story of its own.

Writers write, but books take flight only when readers tell other readers about them. If Breach means something to you, please tell your friends about it. Culture is a strange and beautiful garden nourished by word of mouth.

Selected praise:

"The Analog series from Eliot Peper is simply terrific science fiction from the (very) near future—I loved all three."
-Seth Godin, bestselling author and entrepreneur

"Eliot Peper has accomplished the extraordinary, rendering our own world searingly visible through an imaginary future, and producing an entirely plausible fictional universe with its own logics, rules, and legends. Deeply plotted and bracingly narrated, Breach is a joy to read, a puzzle to consider, and a cultural mystery to solve."
-Eva Hagberg Fisher, critically acclaimed author of How To Be Loved

"Like the best futurist fiction, Peper's Analog trilogy leaves you both satisfied and unsatisfied, content with a story that ends well, but asking questions about how we can go from our current informational wild west to something democratic, something we all have a say in, that's for all of us and not solely built to generate shareholder value. These are big questions, and it's good that the final pages of Breach leave us asking them. After all, if we don't know what questions to ask, how can we build a better world?"
-ZDNet

"Breach has all the markings of an Eliot Peper novel: It's thought-provoking, exciting, and eminently readable."
-Nick Greene, columnist at Slate

Get your copy of Breach right here.

Complement with what inspired Bandwidth, what inspired Borderless, and this podcast interview about the Analog series.

Fellow travelers make the best teachers

I’ve learned so much more from peers than from experts. Seek out kindred spirits, grow alongside them, help them achieve their dreams, and accept their help with grace. We are each other’s catalysts.

Complement with the power of small things, the growth corkscrew, and most successful people have no idea what made them successful.

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How science fiction influences tech entrepreneurs

Inc. interviewed me about the feedback loop between speculative fiction and real world innovation:

https://www.inc.com/sean-wise/the-founders-of-apple-google-microsoft-all-do-this-1-thing-regularly-you-should-too.html

Fun fact: Sean Wise, the author of the article, has been a loyal reader for many years and blurbed my first novel.

Complement with why business leaders need to read more science fiction, how to read fiction to build a startup, and how to use science fiction and scenario planning to make sense of the future.

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What is a story?

A story is anything that makes you want to find out what happens next.

A good story doesn’t leave you feeling cheated at the end.

A great story changes your life and becomes part of who you are.

Complement with a brief anatomy of story, three tips for building a writing career, and Eva Hashberg Fisher on the art of writing memoir.

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The Human Element

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The internet is just getting started

Some people claim that we’ve reached peak internet, that it changed the world but now we’re finding a new equilibrium.

They’re wrong.

We’re still in Chapter 1 of this story. There are folks drafting Chapter 2. And somewhere out there some kids are dreaming up Chapter 3.

Complement with look to the liminal, how reading fiction can make your thinking more flexible, and how to make sense of the future.

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