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Datapocalypse

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Funny and insightful, this book plays with ideas of society, tech, and the Frankenstein’s monster that online data-storage has become.

 

Datapocalypse by Christopher Keast is a nuanced, tongue-in-cheek story of a world where highly visited, picture-worthy historical monuments are disappearing from the face of the Earth because of an underground, supernaturally powerful super-computer that prances between the digital and the physical, easily manipulating sites where the highest agglomeration of data stems from. Kicis Orion, an Irish academic working at Berkeley, studies the historic erosion of societies and sniffs at the notion that personal technology and mass picture-taking is taking a toll of the overall global data storage and that this somehow relates to the unsettling disappearances of monuments. Inspired by this idea, Kicis sprints off to an adventure involving secret police, a new love, new friends, and close encounters with prison, all while circling around the central ideas of data and its relation to society.


This book can at times be like a collection of creative academic essays, as many of these chapters turn into a highly entertaining yet thoughtful discussion between two people, who are usually specialists, conversing calmly about some specific idea that is discussed from the perspective of different disciplines. Although the dialogue is knowledgeable and grounded, it is easy to follow and very accessible to general readers. There is a long chapter dedicated to Kicis participating in a podcast, which is very engaging and entertaining. Discussions are well versed and precise, and although learned, they are the opposite of pedantic. The characters themselves are pleasant and sometimes agreeably foolish, which construes them as very real and even if they are based on actual people (as they likely are), very authentic and marvellously constructed.


The idea that data agglomeration, which becomes vastly redundant in its majority, is a digital trash that comes to the point of physically interacting with our world is a very engaging notion that is highly relevant to our present. The concept of a powerful global algorithm that can lay its binary fingers on real-world objects through the easy access of uploaded data to an online cloud, is an eerie thought. In this book, this is dealt with seriousness but it is also very comedic, and this is helped along by the overall light tone of the book. The supercomputer and its algorithms is also always described like a fantastical being, as a wizard casting spells, a witch, or a vampire, readying their cauldron or “craving for eliminating redundancies and fragmenting waste” (100). These comparisons, besides being humorous, drive home a cautionary pause as to how you, the reader, manage your own personal data and whether you really need such a high amount of it. The playful spirit of the book, however, does not grant it much space for severe warnings and cries of alarm, and its tongue-in-cheek is much in likeness to the brilliant Douglas Adams and his “42” supercomputer.        

   

This book is about “algorithms given too much control, too much insight, too much autonomy” (30) that become “techno-ghosts swallowing buildings” (261). The story gains more and more web-hacking paranoia as it goes along, and a ghost-in-the-shell-like spirit dominates the devices of those who are the most engaged with their tech. The funny and easygoing dialogue that surrounds these ideas of data and online presence also preach small warnings, but overall reflect on the possibility that life seems to be lived through a phone camera rather than real eyes. If you have had similar impressions, then this book will be highly insightful and entertaining for you. And even if you do not engage in such ideas, this book will be amusing and worth your time. Overall, just read it.   

Reviewed by

Book editor, freelance content writer, and translator with a literature MA. I'm passionate about all kinds of literature and art. I enjoy editing, reading, and writing creative and informative content to the best of my abilities. Originality, insight, and entertainment are priorities for me. #Scifi

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About the author

Part engineer, part musician, part poet, a focused writer; Christopher Keast spends his early waking hours creating stories and ideas in an attempt to awaken and entertain. Science fiction with twists of irony – and comedy - are what drive him the most. Enjoy the ride! view profile

Published on January 02, 2020

Published by

100000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Science Fiction

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