“Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you.
Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?
Despite the fact that we are still in 2017, I suspect that I may have read one of the books of 2018 already. Nick Clark Windo’s book The Feed (to be released at the end of January) engrossed me so much while reading that I lost track of time completely.
The book opens up with what seems to be a fairly simple parallel being drawn between our present day social media, and the equivalent technology in the future. “The Feed” is a form of social media developed to connect you neurologically to the population at large the way Twitter does today in text form. It goes beyond that too, allowing the user to feel emotion, store memories on back-up systems, access information instantaneously.
This technological backdrop allows the author to explore important issues such as memory and knowledge, abilities and skills, learning and retention. The book asks the questions of dependency on information storage outside of our minds, and the risks of losing knowledge if we don’t learn and retain it. Much like the way in which memory required for oral story tradition died away in Western Civilization with the advent of writing, the characters in the book battle the ease with which previous interaction, attention span and memory are undermined by the Feed.
These questions become more than an academic exercise for the characters when The Feed is suddenly collapsed and generations of people who have developed a dependency on its functions are left without access to it. Survival without it is now scarily difficult and the level of addiction and dependency is exposed on a large scale. Knowledge retained by humans in the past has been privatized out to the Feed; without it the characters struggle with the basics, how to conduct simple tasks, how to interact.
This all occurs almost in background to the novel, which has a dreamlike quality to it. We meander between time periods as the future unfolds, and the past bubbles up periodically within the narrative to explain and shed light on the character’s plight. It soon becomes clear that the Feed being down has massive global repercussions for the book’s family unit of Tom, Kate and Bea as events and civilization spiral out of control, and our characters become fearful of falling to the mysterious effect known as being ‘Taken’.
This book deals with contemporary concerns around the environment, our custodianship of the planet, the effect of increasing connectivity in our lives and the growing reliance on technology. At the heart of the book though is actually a clear message about what it is that makes us human and how important it is that we retain those things in the future. An important book and one that couldn’t be timelier; I suspect that it will be a popular read next year.
Score 9 out of 10.
The Feed by Nick Clark Windo will be released on 25 January 2018, and will be published by Headline Books.
It is available for pre-order on Amazon here.