Invent-10n is my latest book (I call it a semi-graphic novella, that’s a novel of 60,000 words augmented with illustrations) which is due to be published by Alchemy Press in November. It’s a dystopian story, following the travails of my heroine – twenty-year old nuBop singer and angry young lady, Jenni-Fur – as she struggles against the suffocating strictures of the surveillance society that is Britain 2030.
Invent-10n began life a long time ago – in 2009 to be exact – when I was playing around with the idea of writing a story about a world where the full implications of living in a pan-surveillance society were being played out. To do this I wanted to create a feeling in the mind of the reader that they were actually in that world so I came up with the idea of combining faux-factual material supposedly published in the e-media of 2030 (the year the story is set) this interlaced with the extracts from the diaries of the two chief protagonists, jive-talking, nuBop rebel, Jenni-Fur, and National Protection Agency apparatchik, Sebastian Davenport. Jenni-Fur is the angry young thing determined to screw-over the PanOptika Surveillance system run by the National Protection Agency … the MI5 of the UK of 2030. To do this she teams up with mysterious übergeek, Ivan Nitko, inventor of the eponymous Invent-10n.
Given that there would be significant design element in the book I collaborated with a friend of mine, Nigel Robinson, who did the artwork for my Demi-Monde series. And realising that the format would be unusual we went to the trouble of mocking-up what it would look like and having twenty-five copies printed. Even so the response from mainstream publishers was unenthusiastic.
That was when I got distracted writing the four instalments of the Demi-Monde series and Invent-10n lay on a dongle gathering dust. Then in March this year a friend of mine – Peter Coleborn – who I knew from the Renegade Writers’ group in Stoke sent me an e-mail asking if I had anything, novella-sized, I might consider publishing through his imprint, Alchemy Press. I remembered Invent-10n and sent one of the mock-ups to Peter. Peter liked it (what a sensible lad!).
Now I was faced with finishing the bloody thing … and up-dating it. In this day and age four years is a technological eternity and reality had already caught up with some of the ideas I’d dreamed up back in 2009. The most alarming was that in the original Invent-10n my characters used a thing called a Polly (a Poly-Functional Digital Device) to e-interact with each other and Nigel had designed a Polly (in 2009) to look like this:
Seem familiar? One year later Apple came up with their iPad! Bollocks!
For this and other reasons I had to rework/remodel Invent-10n which took longer than I supposed – two months in fact – and then I had to hand it over to Nigel to work his design magic. The interesting thing was while Nigel beavered away the world became increasingly aware/interested in surveillance and its implications for society. The Edward Snowden brouha and the realisation (pause for gasps of surprise) the NSA was actually e-monitoring everybody and his brother via its PRISM system made me more determined to finish Invent-10n while the subject was hot. When I had written it in 2009 I had been writing a fantasy, now it was more a piece of social commentary.
So, what with the design requirements of the book and Peter’s various editing suggestions Invent-10n wasn’t finally finished until early September. Then I had to write the blurb which would go on the back of the book and wanting something suitably Jenni-Fur-esque I came up with this (presented à la Jenni-fur on a typewriter, which she uses to avoid the e-wigging of the National Protection Agency):
Greetings Gate, let’s Agitate.
Look over your shoulder. Do you see the camera? Then dig that even as you read these words of sedition and denial you are being watched by the ever e-quisitive National Protection Agency. The National Protection Agency – omnipresent, omniscient and most ominous – which runs PanOptika, the spider at the centre of the Web.
PanOptika. What’s the slogan: watching out for the good guys
by watching out for the bad guys. But what did that Roman word-slinger, Juvenal say?Quis custodiet ipsos custodes: who watches
So dig this to the extremity, cats and kittens: if we do nothing soon we must kneel, digitally-dutiful, before National Protection, and then there will be no chance to zig when the ChumBots say zag, or to beep when they say bop. Realise thou that PanOptika triumphant means we will not be able to think, to act, to speak or to move without the spirit-sapping realisation that the badniks know everything … everything.
We are circling the drain.
This is my warning.
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