by Dan Wells
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy, Action, Teen
Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence, returns with a stunning new vision of the near future—a breathless cyber-thriller where privacy is the world’s most rare resource and nothing, not even the thoughts in our heads, is safe.
Please welcome Dan to BookHounds YA !
With so many health care advances lately,
do you think implantable chips will be of use? What if they are hacked?
Absolutely! Some of that is already happening–the odds are good, for example, that you know someone with a chip installed in their heart–and it’s only going to get more advanced and more common. While I write this, in fact, my Twitter feed is buzzing every couple of seconds with updates from a conference on Body Hacking, talking about all kinds of exciting new technologies and ideas for both fixing and upgrading our bodies.
Take eyes, for example. I remember reading an article about some scientists who figured out how to connect a simple camera to an optic nerve, sending visual signals directly to the brain, and it worked so well they were able to help a blind man drive a car around a series of obstacles. The most exciting part about that story is that I read it about fifteen years ago–the technology we have today is so much more powerful, it’s amazing. We literally have the technology to help blind people see, or to go even further and give people telescopic vision, or night vision, or any other kind of visual power. What if you could take a picture with your eyes, and upload it to Instagram with you mind? It might be a while before that kind of thing is publicly available, but trust me, it’s coming.
And what about prosthetic limbs? I knew a guy with a hook for hand, and he used to joke about how it was better than a normal hand because he could take hard boiled eggs out of a pot without burning himself. Today we have prosthetics with fully articulated elbows, wrists, and fingers, all controlled by neural connections that read your brain waves: you think about moving it, and it moves, just like a normal hand. Some prosthetic legs, for example, are so good at running that sprinters in the Special Olympics are starting to score better times than sprinters with biological legs. These technologies are getting better every day, to the point that some military engineers are already talking about creating powerful bionic enhancements for regular soldiers.
One if the ideas that excites me the most is medication; I loved it so much, in fact, that I gave one of my characters clinical depression just so I could also give her the technology that helps to manage it. Scientists all over the world are working on different kinds of computerized implants that can sit in your body and monitor the chemicals in your blood or brain. Are you serotonin levels dropping? Here’s a hit of medication, in a perfectly calculated dose, put straight into your body to deal with the problem before you even know it’s there. Tired of constantly pricking your finger for a diabetes test? How’d you like an implant that can just monitor your blood sugar for you, constantly and unobtrusively, and give you a bit of insulin here and there to help keep you healthy and happy. If it’s a little attack you won’t even notice it, and if it’s a super bad one the implant can call an ambulance for you. Nitroglycerin pills for heart attacks; steroid sprays for asthma; medic alert bracelets for any medical problem you can name: a computer in your body can do the same job better, sometimes so much better that you forget you have a medical problem at all.
As awesome as all of this is, it raises the question of hacking: how can you trust a computer in your body, if some hotshot with a laptop can just hack her way into it and kill you? Some “white hat” hackers, who specialize in finding security problems so the good guys can patch them up, have already found ways to hack into pacemakers and change the settings, turning them off or speeding them up or anything else they want. This is scary, I’ll grant you, but the good news is that it’s easy to overcome if we plan ahead: pacemakers are hackable because nobody expected anyone to try, so the gates are all open and the passwords are all obvious, and there’s no real security installed on any of them. Now that we know the issues, people are designing medical implants with incredible new forms of cybersecurity. There will always be hackers trying to cause problems, but if we stay vigilant we will always have ways to keep them out.
Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.