Hey friends and fans. It’s been a while since I posted an update on what’s going on in terms of my creative book-writing life. That’s almost entirely because I hadn’t quite worked out how to get over that enormous hill over there—yes, that one. See it? Here, have my binoculars.—which was called Planning and Plot Development.
This might seem weird, except for the fact that The Integration Project was originally scoped as a singular event.
Then, something remarkable happened:
Alpha readers started asking if I was writing Book 2.
Hmm, book 2? I pondered. The first book ends on a cliffhanger, but I had never intended to take the story further. What might it look like? What might the intention be? What kind of world would I be creating? How do the characters develop, and why, and what might it all look like?
I’ve been pondering these (and other) questions ever since.
Taking some feedback, doing some brainstorming, and getting my Brain out of the way, has all proven fruitful. I now have a direction not just for Book 2, but for Book 3. And there are possibilities for other volumes in the same world, but focusing on different characters, situations, and outcomes, that tell various stories around the main plot.
So, in case you’re unsure what the hell The Integration Project even is, I’ll tell you.
Book 1 follows Mandy, a geeky programmer who has an intense love of bleeding-edge technology. When she has the opportunity to become integrated with a new type of technology, she agrees to be a guinea pig. And while it’s fun as she learns the tech and its boundaries, it doesn’t last. Very quickly, Mandy finds herself at the whirling centre of chaos, and the cause of it! With a group of friends supporting her as she begins to lose the boundary between Self and Tech, she manages to disappear. Her disappearance freaks out the tech company, which wants its technology back… at any cost. The book ends on a cliffhanger. (No spoilers, sorry!)
So what happens next?
Well, Book 2 picks up on the cliffhanger of Book 1, but it focuses on John, Mandy’s oldest friend (and a man with whom she has a deep and real sexual tension). At the end of Book 1, John has to make a decision. And Book 2 follows what happens as a result of that decision. Where Book 1 is a fast-paced exploration of transhumanism and the intersection of humanity and technology, Book 2 is more political, following the often nasty and nuanced politics that seethe behind the companies and money that creates insane technology. At some point we see Mandy come back in and—
In Book 3, all of the loose ends are tied up: Mandy’s relationship with John; John’s relationship with the two companies with which he is embroiled and beholden; the Others who, like Mandy, were subjects of experimentation and whose lives were made, created, and often destroyed as a result.
The over-arching theme of The Integration Project trilogy is the ageless ethical thinking about what it means to be transhuman. At what point do you become non-human, and what does that mean? What is it that makes humans human, and can you preserve and use that humanity despite the technology that is trying to take you over?
Right now, this is a pertinent topic.
Elon Musk stated in a recent interview with Joe Rogan that he believes real integration with technology is perhaps five years away; 10, tops.
And you are already partly cyborg, anyway. If you’re a regular smartphone and social media user, your brain is already being rewired.
Something that you’ll know about me if you’re a regular reader here is that I am fascinated by what makes us human. And you’ll realise that my views about that vary from many others’. It’s not being able to think, it’s not being sentient, it’s not even empathy. It’s something at the heart of our forgotten skills and abilities. A skill and ability that my protagonist, Mandy, realises she can wake up thanks to her integration.
While the focus of each novel may change as they’re written—characters will do what characters do!—this all feels good.
Book 2 is already under way. John’s dark, multivariate nature is fantastic to write and I am loving being surprised by this guy.
If you’re curious and would love to be one of those who hears about it when the books are available (a long while away yet, but it’ll be on us before you know it), opt into my Weekly Letter. 🙂