S.B. Divya shares the 5 best books on realistic near-future science fiction. Have you read Autonomous?
Who am I?Back in college, I switched from being an astrophysics major to computational neuroscience. The reasons are complicated, but suffice it to say that I found the human brain to be as big of a mystery as black holes. I’ve worked as an engineer for two decades on applications ranging from medical devices, to digital music recognition, to high speed chip design. Writing science fiction is the second act of my life, and I love drawing on my science background to inform my stories. I especially love taking cutting-edge technology and thinking about how it could impact future society, from the global to the individual.
What is my book about?It’s 2095, and humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in a ubiquitous gig economy. Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed by the Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group. Their operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.
Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood, and what do they really want? A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?
The books I picked & why
Why this book?
Annalee Newitz is the founding editor of io9 and a science writer who knows their stuff. In Autonomous, they’ve created a believable world that’s neither dystopian nor utopian. This is the book I might’ve written had I set Machinehood another 50 years in the future. Autonomous came out two years before my book, and when I started reading it, I got worried that my novel (in progress at the time) was obsolete. Luckily, we take some different twists and turns, and this book focuses more on biotech and less on A.I., while my novel does the inverse. It’s a fun, fast-paced thriller that asks questions about sentience, free will, humanity, and identity – everything I love in a story.