Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Book Review: Broadcast by Liam Brown

Pros: terrifying yet plausible premise

Cons: things go predictably badly

Vlogger David Callow meets with the creator of OptimiZer, Xan Brinkley, and is offered the staring role in a new entertainment program. The show is called MindCast and will broadcast what David’s thinking, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

David is a fairly apathetic character when the book starts. He doesn’t really care about anything other than the number of views and likes his videos get, barely paying attention during the meeting that changes his life. He’s not particularly satisfied with the way his life is going, though he projects an image for his fans of a life that is fun and glamorous. So it’s interesting seeing him come to a slow realization of what having his thoughts projected to the world means with regards to his privacy, his safety, and his sense of self.

I was shocked by how few questions David had about the program. While he doesn’t seem to care about his privacy in general, he never asks how things like going to the bathroom or having sex would be dealt with. David is oblivious to the potential downfalls of having everyone able to see his thoughts at all times, so the conversations that point out how this technology can be used or abused are interesting. Even more interesting are the early unexpected side-effects, some of which I hadn’t considered.

While the main plot of the book is fairly predictable, the book’s premise, that some people can be so enamoured of themselves that they’ll give up all privacy in return for fame, is believable. And the results of such an act, are as horrific as you can imagine. You feel a real sense of dread as the book progresses, for a variety of reasons.

It’s a fairly short book and is an entertaining cautionary story.

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