I’ve been a fan of Eliot Peper’s writing since the beginning of his work when he mashed together with the world of startups and the techno-thriller novel into a wild ride. This was the Uncommon Series, three gripping novels about an intrepid entrepreneur named Mara Winkel. Perhaps it was the oh-so-close-to-home aspect (Mara lived in Boulder, CO, and was running a deep-tech company), or how relevant to my own life some of the elements of the story felt (ok, only a few).
I’m not here to talk about the Uncommon Series, but I certainly would recommend putting it on your reading list if you love startups and thrillers!
What I really want to share with you is the Analog Series. This is a 3-part book series (I suggest reading them in order, although they do stand on their own well). The reason for this post is that my brain keeps coming back to these books every few weeks even though I read them over a year ago. I keep experiencing things in the real world that have direct ties to elements in the books. I find myself lost in thought around these things, how they are playing out today, and then start to wonder what other fiction is about to come true. How do I need to prepare for it? How do I feel about it? What impact will it have? Some of what Peper contemplates can be dark, scary, hopeless even…but also beautiful and powerful as the protagonists play their roles.
The series is about technology, but the Analog thing is there too. I see many examples of us humans, as we pull ourselves into an ever-increasingly digital future, finding ways to hang onto analog things and experiences. In some cases, they may save us and keep us grounded.
If knowledge is power, Peper is able to see around the bend in an oh-so-prescient way that is really enticing. Does this author know something I don’t, or is he reflecting on what is already happening and we are blind to the micro-changes we accept each and every day?
Vinyl records, air-cooled vintage cars, pen and paper, polaroids, and birthday cards…all examples of analog things that are making a comeback because of how tangible they are. Or is it because they can’t be deep-faked?
Peper works with so many relevant and “happening now” technology evolutions like our online information feed being manipulated, tech companies becoming all-powerful mega-corps, persistent tracking, and location data to the point you can’t hide, autonomous transportation, and more. What’s special here is that he’s just that few steps ahead of where we are today. It's more of a look at 2025 than 2050. You can see how close we are to being just a few decisions (both good or bad, moral or immoral) away from Peper’s future-state. This is why my brain keeps coming back here — the headlines in today’s news are narratives in Peper’s books of tomorrow. Or is tomorrow already here and we don’t see it yet? His work creates this blur, and it's an awesome read if you are into these kinds of things…
So why am I recommending you go read the Analog Series now? Because I’m seeing the headlines become our reality. I’m seeing the consequences of decisions we make play out and blur the fiction vs reality line. It helps me see things from another perspective and makes me think more deeply about what we, collectively, are doing and why. This series gets high marks for entertainment value, but also drives real critical thinking without being pretentious about it. If you are looking for something to take your mind off the Pandemic and the Election for a minute — go ahead and put the phone on airplane mode, sit by the fire, and start with Bandwidth.