Shelley Stone has it all together. She’s a wife, mother, and the CEO of a major tech company. Her daily schedule is a model of efficiency with everything from power naps to sex with her husband scheduled down to the second. When she meets a young woman claiming to be her younger herself, could all the pressures of neatly ordered life finally be getting to her? This a laugh-out-loud exploration of work/life balance in our increasingly absurd world.
The Perfect Wife
A miraculous technological advancement has pulled Abbie back from the brink. Five years after a terrible accident, she awakens next to a man who claims to be her husband. He’s a Steve Jobs-esque tech giant. She is an artist, a loving mother, and the perfect wife–or so he tells her. Abbie has no memory of any of this. But, as her memories slowly re-emerge, she begins to realize all is not as it seems and begins to question what it really means to be the perfect wife.
Machines Like Me
Set against the backdrop of an alternate 1980’s London, Machines Like Me follows Charlie–a disaffected young man drifting between jobs and in love with a girl named Miranda. An unexpected windfall allows Charlie to buy Adam, one of the world’s first synthetic humans. With the help of Miranda, he designs Adam to be a near perfect human. When a love triangle quickly forms between the three, they are forced to confront the very concept of what being human means.
The Plus One
Trying to find a date for a wedding when you’re perpetually single is no easy task. Fortunately for Kelly, she happens to be a brilliant robotics engineer. So, what is her solution for that ever-elusive wedding date? Build one. Ethan, her mechanical paramour, is the perfect boyfriend–he’s attentive, he’s gorgeous, he’s great with her mother. There’s just one not-so-insignificant problem: Kelly is now falling for her robotic beau.
Are you looking forward to the day when self-driving cars are the norm? Clearly you haven’t read The Passengers. This fast-paced thriller centers around eight people who suddenly find themselves trapped in their self-driving cars with no way to escape or retake control. A mysterious voice tells each, “You are going to die.” Hidden cameras within each car begin to broadcast to millions of people around the world and a deadly choice is offered to the public tuning in: “Which of these people should we save? And who should we kill?”
The Circle is the most powerful internet company in the world. It’s literally a dream job for Mae Holland and she becomes even more enthralled as she settles into life on the Circle’s sprawling, ultra-modern campus. However, as her role with the company becomes more public and her privacy continuously shrinks, she soon discovers the darker side of the Circle’s ever advancing technologies.
The Heart Goes Last
Margaret Atwood’s 2015 slice of dystopian fiction is a Swiftian satire set against the backdrop of vast prison state. It centers on Stan and Charmaine, a destitute couple deep in the throes of a nationwide economic collapse. They live in their car and are forced to avoid roaming gangs at night. At least until they find safety in the Consilience Community–a gated suburb offering a lifetime job and a home. The catch? Every other month, the couple must serve as inmates under constant surveillance in the Positron prison system. What could possibly go wrong?
Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds
Can’t wait for Stranger Things season 4? Fortunately for all of us, there is a growing Stranger Things literary universe to dig into. Suspicious Minds finally reveals some of the truth behind Eleven’s mother and the mysteries of the Hawkins National Laboratory. Cutting edge tech used for nefarious purposes, shadowy government conspiracies, and background on the backstory of one of your favorite characters–how many more reasons do you need to check this one out?
Since the advent of what could be considered technology, we’ve been deeply fascinated with all the myriad ways it could go wrong. Humans are apparently just morbid that way. Mary Shelley charted this territory with Frankenstein in 1818. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells were warning us of the fantastical dangers of technology in the late 19th century. George Orwell made us all terrified of the surveillance state way back in 1949. And writers of all stripes have been mining the dichotomy of humanity’s obsession and fear with technological advancement ever since.
We live in a world where science fiction seems to quickly become science fact and with smart home devices, self-driving cars, and automation no longer the mere flights of sci-fi fancy, it’s a particularly apt moment for books about tech gone wrong. Here are a few of our recent favorites.
Featured illustration by Jon Han