I have been fascinated by technology as far back as I can remember into early childhood. My Dad worked for IBM for over 30 years, and in the early 80’s he would take home an IBM 5155 Portable PC on the weekends for us to use when I was only 4 years old. It wasn’t until we got our very own beloved IBM PCJr (it was only much later in life that I realized how maligned it was in the “public”) that my interest really took off though, and I’ve never looked back. In the three decades since then technology has advanced in ways that not even Star Trek predicted, and I imagine that in three more decades we’ll be looking back in a similar amused manner. I’m a voracious reader and try to keep up on as much technology news as possible, and when I started out to write this book I wanted to include as much plausible tech as possible.
The spark for this book came from a 2012 news article that summarized research from the University of Sydney showing that while an Alcubierre “warp” drive was theoretically possible, it could potentially wipe out all life when the ship stopped at its destination. Now that’s interesting, I thought, imagining how an established human colonial empire would deal with the ramifications of such dangers. From that came the concept of the “flash” drive and the PAN system designed to mitigate the risks of it, similar to today’s air traffic controllers (or perhaps more accurately, the positive train control systems being deployed today). And once you have devised such a solution, what happens when someone breaks it. It is sort of a super-charged version of Jon’s Law, which states “Any interesting space drive is a weapon of mass destruction.”
The gravity drive is based on an obscure amateur physics book called SlipString Drive by Andrew L Bender, which I read long ago while blowing through a few books on String & Unified Theory that were generally way above my comprehension level. The concept of gravity has always appealed to me because despite massive leaps in physics our understanding of it is almost comically nonexistent. Gravity is the only force of nature that scientists just can’t seem to explain and it doesn’t appear to play by any of the known rules of either relativity or quantum mechanics. While Newton’s Apple fell centuries ago, scientists have searched for “gravity waves” for a hundred years and only very recently confirmed their existence. As a relatively unknown but undeniably critical force in our universe, I view the mastery of gravity as a possible tremendous evolution in human technology. When Bender postulated a faster-than-light drive that utilized gravity waves, I felt it was the perfect plot device to showcase human civilization struggling with that mastery.
The VIA is based on real technology currently in use and under development today. Way back in 2013 scientists first connected the brains of two mice on completely different continents together, demonstrating the ability to share sensory information and knowledge across a data link. Optical implants are already being used to allow blind people to see for the first time, and DARPA is working on an integrated heads-up display directly embedded into the eye like the OHUD. Several prominent and very rich individuals are working on advanced BMIs (brain machine interfaces) including Mark Zuckerberg, Bryan Johnson, and Elon Musk (for an eye-popping idea of what Musk is up to check out this long-form but incredibly worth reading Wait But Why post). It is not a matter of IF we will have BMIs like the VIA but when, and just how much they will do.
Artificial General Intelligence will likely eventually come to pass as well. We’re flirting around with smart AI assistants in our mobiles and homes already, and it is only logical that we would eventually install them in humanoid forms. In fact, following the general rule of sextech leading the way in technological breakthroughs (see VHS, DVD, internet), robotic “Dutch Wives” are already a reality, and some already include limited AI in them. There are obviously morale and ethical considerations to consider as we develop strong AI (aka AGI). What is sentience? What is a person? How much individual will should we give a machine that is created by man? Should we let machines create machines? I actually predict a much higher integration with AGIs than I portray in this book but for the purposes of narrative I invented some laws and restrictions on them to make things interesting.
Bio-engineered soldiers are already under heavy research & development today and they will be deployed on the battlefield in the next decade or so (if not secretly deployed already). All of the things that Dargo Pearce can do in this book, from extreme physical feats to the on-the-fly adjustment of body chemistry, are in the scope of current research fields. Modern bio-hackers are already experimenting with subcutaneous armor. And we haven’t even seen the full extent of what Agent Pearce can do; much more to come in future books.
Finally, in a world of interconnected BMIs, “Syncing” will absolutely be a thing, as will much more. The recording and sharing of memories will eventually be commonplace, which can lead to all sorts of ethical dilemmas. Great care must be taken to safeguard against hacking and data theft of such things, as well as how they are commercially used. If you think today’s adult video industry is big business, imagine being able to download the complete sensory experience of another person and “relive” it. And this is really small thinking on the subject…if you can link two minds together, why not 100? Why not all of them?
I’d love to hear your feedback on these and other technologies used in the book and even suggestions for future inclusion.