CNET Book Club: Infinite Detail asks, what if the internet dies?
Author Tim Maughan talks about his near- and far-future novel, why we should fear surveillance, and gives a little hope on how we can fight back (maybe).
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Cast your mind forward, five, 10, 30 years. What will the future of the ultra-connected smart city be like? Glad you asked, because Infinite Detail is as good an exploration of the promises and fears of the next decade as you're likely to read.
Tim Maughan, a journalist for Vice/Motherboard, New Scientist and the BBC, joins us on the podcast to discuss his novel Infinite Detail. We talk about what scares him about smart cities, the possibilities and pitfalls of augmented reality, and a lot more.
Set in both a creepily frictionless New York City of the deep-surveillance near-future and a rebellious anti-surveillance community in Bristol, UK called The Croft, Infinite Detail also jumps back and forth in time. Half of the book takes place in a near future fully immersed in AR smartglasses and information-collecting infrastructures. The other half lives in an even farther-off future where the internet as we know it, and much of the global infrastructure, has collapsed.
I won't spoil anything else in between, but the politically-charged book follows the spirit of Cory Doctorow's 2017 novel, Walkaway, and in some ways, Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel: It's both pre- and post-apocalyptic, and yet also oddly optimistic. I swear.
About CNET Book Club
The Book Club is hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman (author of the nonfiction video game history book The Tetris Effect), and Scott Stein, a playwright and screenwriter. We'll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott.