Bandwidth is a science fiction thriller featuring hackers and spies grappling over the geopolitics of climate change, with a group of techno-utopian activists hijacking the global feed to manipulate world leaders. Fast-paced, lush, and philosophical, it will suck you in and stick with you long after you reach the end. Brad Feld calls it “spectacular near-term science fiction” and TechCrunch describes it as “an engaging, electric read that forces us to confront the state of the world today.”
The rough draft grew in fits and starts. This was a turbulent time in the United States, and it was impossible to escape the chaos and outrage of the presidential election. Technology played a disturbing and divisive role in that election, defying the starry-eyed pronouncements all too common in Silicon Valley. Judging by the current news cycle, there is still ample material for investigative journalists to dig their teeth into.
But great novels offer something different from great reporting. Fiction shines when it entertains and challenges us at the same time. It transports us. It offers an opportunity to move beyond intellectual debate and play out ideas in the gritty, intimate, messy context of people’s actual lives. It forces us to put things in perspective and to ask hard questions even if we don’t have ready answers.
If we are the stories we tell ourselves, what happens when someone else controls the narrative? If every detail of your life was algorithmically engineered, would you even be able to trust yourself? What does it take for a cynic to rediscover authenticity? How is technology changing the structure and exercise of power? When absolute data corrupts absolutely, what price would you pay to change the world?
These were some of the recurring questions that surfaced again and again as I worked my way through Bandwidth chapter by chapter, scene by scene, word by word. They are questions I am forced to consider every day when I succumb to the distraction of social media, find myself ignoring injustice because it all just seems to be too much, or contemplate just how out of touch our social institutions are from a world of accelerating innovation.
These are dark thoughts, and there is a dark vein running through Bandwidth. But whenever I struggle, I try to channel the protagonist’s passion for history. I’d rather live in 2018 than in 1918. Or 1818. Or 1718. Or any other time.
By historical standards, most people alive today enjoy miracles that the emperors of old could only dream of (and likely didn’t). We are a lucky and privileged few, and whatever corruption and injustice we seek to overcome isn’t new or unique. And that leads us to a challenging conclusion.
The world is what we make it.
If we throw up our hands when the going gets tough, we get what we deserve. So take a deep breath, do some gentle stretching, and make the world a better place. Do a favor for a stranger. Be kind when instinct calls for harshness. Question your assumptions. Make good art. Tell your loved ones how grateful you are to have them in your life. Lend a hand to those in need. Take real risks to do the right thing.
Selected praise for Bandwidth:
“Real and urgent… a thoughtful meditation on the ethics of power among those who broker it. Peper manages a great deal of complexity without sacrificing clarity or pace, and I read it all in a single fascinated sitting.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Eliot Peper’s Bandwidth is a riveting novel exploring the dark side of feeds and geopolitics… an engaging, electric read that forces us to confront the state of the world today.” –TechCrunch
“A thrilling and all-too-realistic future in which the ubiquitous ‘feed’—an immersive algorithm used by millions—becomes a tool for high-stakes blackmail, with climate change hanging in the balance.” -Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor
“The techno-thriller novel that we need right now, Bandwidth explores a terrifying world where we are all consumed by ‘the feed.’” –Ars Technica
“Peper does a fabulous job depicting power and its trappings… [Bandwidth] is science fiction that grapples with consent, manipulation, equity, duty and friendship, where no one is entirely irredeemable and even the heroes need redemption.” -Cory Doctorow, author of Walkaway and Little Brother
“Captivating near-term science fiction.” -Farnam Street
“An all-too-plausible thriller of power, morality, and global consequences. What would you do to wield influence? How far would you go to wield it for good? Bandwidth’s answers may disturb you.” -Ramez Naam, author of Nexus
“Technology, not only social media but also the news feeds we consume, changes the ways we look at everything. Good and bad actors manipulate us via that technology in ways that we’re only now beginning to appreciate. Bandwidth tells a really good story and illustrates exactly how that happens.” -Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist
“A smart techno-thriller that plays out the near future of data immersion, the digital divide, and climate change with mind-expanding effectiveness.” -Malka Older, author of Infomocracy
“A very credibly rendered near future… Peper guides his story with a sure hand, lacing its narrative with issues and references that resonate powerfully in the age of net neutrality, algorithms, and social media hacks.” -Publisher’s Weekly
“Bandwidth is science fiction perfectly timed for the crazy world we live in these days. Highly recommended, even if parts feel like they hit a little too close to home.” -Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt
“What. A. Ride. A perfect near-future world that feels chillingly real. Bandwidth will make my top books of the year without blinking an eye.” -Brian’s Book Blog
“Eliot Peper’s Bandwidth is an exciting, unpredictable, high-tech espionage thriller.” –Templeton Gate
“All too plausible… [Bandwidth] asks big questions about trust, technology, power, and who really controls narratives.” -East Bay Express
“Avoids taking the easy ‘outs’ and subverts expectations. Bandwidth moves to center stage real world issues that we’re all living through right now: global warming, climate refugees, the subversion of democracy.” -Open Buddha
Read Bandwidth today.
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