Hot Best Seller

Infinite Detail PDF, ePub eBook

4.6 out of 5
30 review

Infinite Detail

Availability: Ready to download

File Name: Infinite Detail .pdf

How it works:

1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.

2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)

3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.


Infinite Detail PDF, ePub eBook A timely and uncanny portrait of a world in the wake of fake news, diminished privacy, and a total shutdown of the Internet. BEFORE: In Bristol's center lies the Croft, a digital no-man's-land cut off from the surveillance, Big Data dependence, and corporate-sponsored, globally hegemonic aspirations that have overrun the rest of the world. Ten years in, it's become a center A timely and uncanny portrait of a world in the wake of fake news, diminished privacy, and a total shutdown of the Internet. BEFORE: In Bristol's center lies the Croft, a digital no-man's-land cut off from the surveillance, Big Data dependence, and corporate-sponsored, globally hegemonic aspirations that have overrun the rest of the world. Ten years in, it's become a center of creative counterculture. But it's fraying at the edges, radicalizing from inside. How will it fare when its chief architect, Rushdi Mannan, takes off to meet his boyfriend in New York City--now the apotheosis of the new techno-utopian global metropolis? AFTER: An act of anonymous cyberterrorism has permanently switched off the Internet. Global trade, travel, and communication have collapsed. The luxuries that characterized modern life are scarce. In the Croft, Mary--who has visions of people presumed dead--is sought out by grieving families seeking connections to lost ones. But does Mary have a gift or is she just hustling to stay alive? Like Grids, who runs the Croft's black market like personal turf. Or like Tyrone, who hoards music (culled from cassettes, the only medium to survive the crash) and tattered sneakers like treasure. The world of Infinite Detail is a small step shy of our own: utterly dependent on technology, constantly brokering autonomy and privacy for comfort and convenience. With Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan makes the hitherto-unimaginable come true: the End of the Internet, the End of the World as We Know It.

30 review for Infinite Detail

  1. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    This is the kind of book we might pick up again in ten years' time only to be devastated by how many of Maughan's predictions of techno-terrorism have come true: Intertwining two alternating timelines - before and after a total internet shutdown that has plunged the world into chaos -, this author thinks through how our growing dependency on network technology and digitalization gives rise to new forms of power battles and warfare. The story centers on "the Croft", a counterculture enclave in Br This is the kind of book we might pick up again in ten years' time only to be devastated by how many of Maughan's predictions of techno-terrorism have come true: Intertwining two alternating timelines - before and after a total internet shutdown that has plunged the world into chaos -, this author thinks through how our growing dependency on network technology and digitalization gives rise to new forms of power battles and warfare. The story centers on "the Croft", a counterculture enclave in Bristol that activists have managed to cut off from big data surveillance by the government and corporations. Enduring pressure from the outside and radicalizing from the inside, the Croft is struggling to find a masterplan for its future - until a group of radical hackers shuts down the internet and global production, supply chains, communication, energy, travel, and security systems collapse. Now the oppressive structures of global surveillance are dead - what now? Maughan orchestrates a whole cast of edgy characters that roam his dystopian world and slowly unfolds what actually happened the day the internet died. They believe in the archaic power of music, they can re-play the past and navigate the online world with their spex (which are like an advanced version of google glasses) - at least as long as they have network connection - and they realize what's the crux of every revolution: You need a plan regarding what you will do once you won. And is it really a victory if people starve and die? It's hard to describe the text's style, which is of course a plus because it means it's unusual: I wouldn't say it's steampunk (as some reviewers claim), because the Victorian aspect is utterly missing; rather, Maughan shows a heightened version of now, determined by information overload, advertisements and global consumer culture. Privacy is almost abolished and instead, everything is openly dsiplayed in infinite detail. This book is a very smart thought experiment that negotiates current tendencies and highlights how global surveillance can become dangerous for everybody, including those gathering the information. I hope some literary judges will be bold enough to include this edgy book in their prize lists, because this is a discussion to be had.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eva Nebbia

    I read more than half of this, looked up, thought, “I really don’t care what happens.” And put it down. 2019 is the year of me feeling okay with ditching books I don’t care about.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Philipp

    SkyNet is real, and it wants to sell you shoes made by child slaves. Every decade's science-fiction is taking common themes and anxieties of its decade, and transfers them slightly into the future. 60s SF had a nuclear war, 70s SF had ecological collapse, 80s SF had mega conglomerates ruling the planet, 90s SF had... I'm not sure?, but Infinite Detail clearly is about the anxieties Facebook, Google and the ubiquitous Internet have caused, the loss of privacy, more importantly, the loss of private SkyNet is real, and it wants to sell you shoes made by child slaves. Every decade's science-fiction is taking common themes and anxieties of its decade, and transfers them slightly into the future. 60s SF had a nuclear war, 70s SF had ecological collapse, 80s SF had mega conglomerates ruling the planet, 90s SF had... I'm not sure?, but Infinite Detail clearly is about the anxieties Facebook, Google and the ubiquitous Internet have caused, the loss of privacy, more importantly, the loss of private space. There are two intertwined stories featuring mostly the same characters - one is Before, set in the close future, where glasses-like devices called Spex have taken over as smart phone replacements. Facebook, Google, etc. are all still there, and have only become more powerful. Cars are all self-driving, and people are even more constantly hooked into the network: We’re not imagining things. And nobody planned this, no cabal of evil old white men in a smoky room. Nobody is in control, and believing that someone might be is where we all start to fail. This is just the political reality, it is just what happened. It’s what we all let happen. It’s the endgame of capitalism. The story in the Before follows a few Internet and privacy activists (think EFF) in the UK and the US and describes their alternative zone in Bristol, where they jam the worldwide net and have their own local version, an area where artists flourish and an alternative lifestyle is possible (by the way, similar zones were erected during the Arab Spring - the governments shut down the internet to stop people organising, so local digital networks were built). The story in the Before slowly progresses towards a quasi-apocalypse, the great breakdown of the Internet due to some kind of virus (Maughan never uses the word 'virus' because it would be ridiculous, but most people would understand that?). The breakdown causes a kind of apocalypse, a collapse of all supply chains, of all communications, of all transport, there's chaos, warlords rise up, the remains of the UK army start to enslave people to farm food, and so on. The second part of the story, the After, is set some time after this collapse, but featuring mostly the same characters who are trying to figure out what actually happened, and trying to bring order back into the chaos, to organise. The main character is hugely into UK drum'n'bass, tries to find samples, tries to generate something new but doesn't have the technical means to do so - while other early activists are trying to hide from the army, and trying to find their friends. It feels like the book is heavily influenced by Mark Fischer. A lot of the characters' discussions on capitalism and the system they fight feels like it comes from Fischer's Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?. The After part feels like Fischer's hauntology come to life, British jungle music as a nostalgia for a future that never happened, which perfectly describes the nostalgia the characters in the After have (as described in Fischer's Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures). Since there's a lot about electronic music here, allusions to Hakim Bey's TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone are not missing, either. I would love to know what Fischer thinks of Maughan's book, but he's dead, how dare he If there's one thing to criticize, then this: there are so many ideas and concepts here that the story itself seems to suffer, a lot of the book is 'exploring the world', not 'growing the characters'. Rush is the only one who seems to develop, and that's only because the other characters learn 'the truth' about the time of his disappearance as the story progresses, not because the character itself develops. Like Stanislaw Lem, Maughan seems to be more interested in the societal repercussions of his scenarios than repercussions on a personal, psychological level? Anyway, this is where cyberpunk and SF will develop into - from anxiety about the loss of physical self-determination (think biomods in 80s cyberpunk) to anxiety about the loss of psychological self-determination (think fake news). P.S.: After Helen DeWitt's Some Trick: Thirteen Stories contained the first-ever R code I found in a book, Infinite Detail contained the first-ever pastebin I found in a book P.P.S.: As part of my career I've had interactions with rich people who work in fields I personally loathe, and this book echoes my feelings perfectly - this quote comes from a chance encounter between one of the privacy activists and some kind of stock broker: Brad seems nice enough—weirdly naïve, even—but Rush can’t shake the realization that he represents everything he hates. All the greed and the ignorance, all the willingness to hand over control to the machines, to take away any sense of human self-determination and to put it in the arms of the network. And all just to keep a few people rich, to squander technology’s potential for real change in order to make a quick, lazy buck. All good art comes from anger? Edit 1: Something I realised only later -one of the main points in Fisher's Capitalist Realism is how alternatives to capitalism have become unimaginable. In the 70s, people fought against capitalism and for communism - then communism collapsed and now there's no real alternative. This is picked up in Infinite Detail in a short discussion - the activists brought the system down, but then they didn't know what to put into its place, and everything floundered. Edit 2: As part of the promo for this book, Maughan put together a playlist of the 'soundtrack' of this book - lots of electronic music, lots of UK rave, very much 90s jungle, you can listen to it here.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

    Infinite Detail is a novel about technological culture and dystopia, but those two topics aren't paired in quite the way readers might expect. It takes place along two timelines, something very close to our present ("Before") and a time about fifteen years hence ("After"). During the former we follow characters involved in a technological-separatist community carved out of the British city of Bristol; during the latter, we follow people in the same area after an apocalyptic event. The central tra Infinite Detail is a novel about technological culture and dystopia, but those two topics aren't paired in quite the way readers might expect. It takes place along two timelines, something very close to our present ("Before") and a time about fifteen years hence ("After"). During the former we follow characters involved in a technological-separatist community carved out of the British city of Bristol; during the latter, we follow people in the same area after an apocalyptic event. The central trauma of the novel is that the internet is suddenly destroyed, plunging civilization into collapse. Infinite Detail tacks back and forth between these two periods, taking us up to the event, then tracing its impact. Both of these are described in a naturalist style. Most of the British characters are poor or working class, and the life "After" is horrendous. The class divides between Mary, who can see the dead, and her allies, versus some of her clients, are stark and quite British. Race and racism also structure both epochs. Maughan eschews lyricism, except when trying to evoke music, which becomes a major aspect of the story, or the novel's framing romance. Humanity has suffered an extraordinary, cataclysmic die off, followed by a fall back to late medieval living standards. Many practical details make this world vivid, like the Croft's hard-won business in growing spices, largely driven by child labor. Some readers may recognize the life-after-internet dystopia through other stories. Post-EMP fiction has become a subgenre now, with titles like William R. Forstchen's One Second After or the tv series Jericho. S. M. Stirling's Dies the Fire posits a sudden fall of technology; I can't remember if we learn the cause. Infinite Detail offers a particular take on this, showing only the destruction of the internet through a kind of cascading, internet-of-things based denial of service attack. This doesn't only take down computer games and cat videos, but guts all of civilization, from self-driving cars to utilities. Yet I'm not sure where the novel ends up. It's clear from the start that modern technology is problematic for the text, and also that a sudden return to feudalism is even worse. I'm still wondering about where this takes us. To explain, I have to raise spoiler shields. It's not a suspense novel with twists and turns, but still: (view spoiler)[We begin with a strong sense of technological criticism. Rush is our present day guide, a cyberactivist whose arguments are quite convincing in a 2019 where we increasingly dread Google, Facebook, and smartphones. His solution, a grass roots, non-global network sounds intriguing. Then the world collapses, and Rush's plan seems useless until the very end. Most of the book, in fact, digs into the catastrophe. On balance the novel feels like a slam at those who wish to unplug: for being foolish at best, and deadly dangerous at worst. Other plotlines leave me unsettled. One character returns to Bristol to revisit her role in the collapse, then leaves... to pursue a bloody, desperate civil war in Wales. Is this a tragic or heroic outcome? We don't see enough of that conflict to determine. Mary's visions of the dead are revealed to be technological artifacts. This development does not destroy her, but seems to leave her in a positive state. Is this a progressive parable of mysticism debunked by the products of reason, or a sad tale of folklore quashed by tech? In America a Movement appears, systematically and violently wiping out internet-age data, deeming it oppression and slavery (357). Is this just another working out of the apocalypse, or the sign of a positive polity in that situation? Rush ends the novel ready to find his lost love, and also to rebuild the Croft's hyperlocal mesh network. This *feels* triumphant, a positive result after so much horror. Perhaps that's where Maughan wants us to end up, using digital technology, but only at the local, grass roots level. I'm not sure. So much of the post-apocalypse is isolated and terribly lonely (one theme: everyone's looking for someone). Is this a call for a Schumacher-like small is beautiful world, or for the hyper-local holons in Daniel Suarez' FreedomTM (2010)? This feels unsettled to me, perhaps because the determination is supposed to be left up to the reader. (hide spoiler)] Infinite Detail feels like it's in dialogue with Cory Doctorow's Walkaway (2017) (which we read in our book club last year; the author was then a fine guest on the Future Trends Forum). Doctorow also posited a utopian space, based on a radically different take on technology. He also described a social divide between these two worlds, one which became increasingly violent. Maughan offers a different twist, having the mainstream world utterly wrecked, and the utopian world unable to help. Instead, the Croft is a gangster's domain, powered by child labor and kept in check by public hangings. It's based on a different sense of technological activism, giving us an edge case of destruction, rather than Walkaway's positive, constructive hackers. A few last notes: I'm impressed by the AR/MR "spex" that people use in "Before" (our near future) to access the digital world. One of the most convincing versions of that I've seen. One passage stood out to me, one I can't shake, and I'm not sure I agree with it:[T]heir community wasn't... obvious... It wasn't the people that mattered, she told him, but the spaces in between. The hidden spaces, the communal secrecy, the unwatched places. The spaces that belonged to them. (192) Overall, one of the more interesting and thought-provoking works of modern sf. Recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    August Bourré

    Originally posted here: http://www.vestige.org/2019/03/07/inf... It’s rare for me to be as excited about a new release as I am about Tim Maughan’s excellent debut novel, Infinite Detail. I don’t recall exactly who put me on to Maughan’s work—someone on Twitter, surely, as that’s where I’ve gotten most of my book news and recommendations for close to a decade now—but I read Paintwork in 2016 and felt like I’d finally found the kind of science fiction I’d been looking for, and which the genre seeme Originally posted here: http://www.vestige.org/2019/03/07/inf... It’s rare for me to be as excited about a new release as I am about Tim Maughan’s excellent debut novel, Infinite Detail. I don’t recall exactly who put me on to Maughan’s work—someone on Twitter, surely, as that’s where I’ve gotten most of my book news and recommendations for close to a decade now—but I read Paintwork in 2016 and felt like I’d finally found the kind of science fiction I’d been looking for, and which the genre seemed determined not to give me. For those who haven’t encountered Maughan’s fiction before I’d probably say that it combines William Gibson’s remarkable ability to see right to the heart of now with the politics and analysis of someone like Adam Greenfield and the weird narrative prototyping of design fiction, although that doesn’t seem quite right. Jay Owens might call it kitchen sink dystopia, which applies to much of his short fiction, but Infinite Detail doesn’t really fit there. We could try some comp titles. I could tell you that I recommend Infinite Detail if you liked Warren Ellis’ Normal, Madeline Ashby’s Company Town, or Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway, although none of those quite hit the mark either. Infinite Detail isn’t trapped by genre the way Ashby’s book is, forced to change the stakes and throw away hard-won character development in the face of convention. Maughan also has more than just a surface-level understanding of how class actually functions, the lack of which cripples Doctorow’s writing; you’ll be getting the real thing from Maughan, a world where the “lower” classes aren’t just start-up brogrammers who can’t find work. Warren Ellis’ Normal might be the comparison that works best, though while the two writers are about on par with their prose chops, Maughan seems to care less about the clockwork machinery of his stories and more about the people. Or maybe it’s closer to a stripped-down version of what Nick Harkaway was doing in Gnomon? That comparison has problems, too. Tim might yell at me if I bring up Charlie Brooker. There honestly aren’t all that many touchstones. This a good thing. Infinite Detail is about network effects, about tracing the impacts that enormous systems—systems that are human made but beyond the scale of any individual human’s understanding or control—have on individuals and communities. And it’s about what happens when somebody says “enough” and burns those systems down. The novel is split into chapters that jump back and forth between “Before” and “After,” referring to the event that brought down the Internet and dropped the entire world into the kind of proper dystopia that many in the global south already live in. Initially I found myself more interested in the “Before” chapters, with their insightful, if occasionally blunt, dissection of the tradeoffs we make when we ask for convenience from the network and the unintended consequences of those tradeoffs that we are usually willfully oblivious to. It was a bit of a thrill to follow Rush through those early chapters as he tried to make a modern life for himself but still resist surveillance capitalism using tools and skills that have limited value—or at least limited immediate value—outside that context. One of my favourite bits from these chapters is actually available to read online. As the novel progressed I found myself more and more drawn to the “After” chapters, however, and not just because it became increasingly obvious what the “event” was that the “Before” chapters were leading up to. It’s been clear for some time now that capitalism isn’t sustainable and that something needs to change. What isn’t clear—what can’t be clear—is what’s going to happen next, and how we’re going to get there. I have books on the subject, some I’ve read and some still in the stack, and I have friends who are even writing books about alternate structures that might offer a hopeful transition. Mostly I’m skeptical: there are reasons power and privilege aren’t surrendered without a fight, and the various flavours of anarchism and libertarianism I’ve seen offered up as de-centralized, non-state alternatives strike me as just different mutations of the same species of magical thinking. There are mysteries in the “After” chapters: who is Anika? What’s up with Mary’s “ghosts”? What happened to Rush? But it’s ultimately Maughan’s anticipation of my kind of skepticism that drives that part of Infinite Detail, and his answer is real and raw—Grids’ speech about self-determination later in the book should be required reading for anyone who thinks or writes about these issues. People are going to die. There will be power vacuums and violence, famine and disease. People will be crippled by memory and by the loss of memory after decades of externalizing it. But there will also be music, and art, and hope, people taking responsibility and charting new paths. It’s fascinating to me that one of the most hopeful moments in the entire novel, which occurs near the end of the extended epilogue, has its origins in an act of love, but that it, too, is compromised. I won’t get into too much detail—surely discussing events in the epilogue counts as “spoiling”—but I will say that the hope created by that act of love winds up not only enabling violence, but what is created also seems to require violence to keep it from falling apart or being overwhelmed. In Walkaway, Doctorow suggests there might be room for a bloodless revolution; Maughan knows that isn’t possible. It’s oddly satisfying, in a way, that it’s so goddamn messy and compromised. That being said, don’t come to Infinite Detail expecting a thrill ride full of gunfights or hacker battles or whatever else. It’s not that. It’s a slow burn, and the plot doesn’t hinge upon or resolve via violence. Maughan’s writing doesn’t need those things to be interesting, and I’d honestly have been disappointed if that was the kind of novel he’d produced. The strength of his work has always been in his ability to weld the science fictional to the everyday, and through that process reveal what is both exhilarating and terrifying about now and about us. Infinite Detail has that in spades and fully lives up to both my expectations and the positive press it’s been receiving. Maughan has written a bold and unsettling first novel that is nothing short of magnificent. I only just finished my first read through this morning, and this post has only scratched the surface of what’s interesting about this book. I expect I’ll be thinking about and returning to Infinite Detail for quite some time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Liu

    This book came in the mail today and I read the whole thing this afternoon, in about 3 hours, stopping only to make lunch. Suffice to say I found it riveting. This is a clever work of dystopian near-future sci-fi, imagining a world where the Internet is even more ubiquitous, and even more commodified, than it is now. Or at least, that's how it is in the "before" scenes of the book, set in 2021; the "after" scenes depict an Internet-free wasteland, where global capitalism has ground to a halt beca This book came in the mail today and I read the whole thing this afternoon, in about 3 hours, stopping only to make lunch. Suffice to say I found it riveting. This is a clever work of dystopian near-future sci-fi, imagining a world where the Internet is even more ubiquitous, and even more commodified, than it is now. Or at least, that's how it is in the "before" scenes of the book, set in 2021; the "after" scenes depict an Internet-free wasteland, where global capitalism has ground to a halt because the technology that keeps goods circulating around the world - produced in factories, ferried over the ocean by container ships, and finally distributed at retail outlets - has collapsed. It's not a pretty picture, to say the least. The people who were responsible for the global Internet shutdown are never introduced as characters; we can only surmise their motives through other characters' interpretations and through the manifesto they posted, revealed to the reader in epistolary form. A charitable interpretation would be that they were trying to make things right again. Trying to help society break free of its gilded chains. Trying to help people take off their Internet-connected AR spectacles in order to see the dystopia that society had already become. The politics of the book aren't exactly subtle, but neither are they Manichaean. The pre-collapse world wasn't perfect, especially for those on the margins - like Frank, a Brooklyn resident whose only source of income comes from recycling cans he's scavenged, at least until a software update meant to eliminate cash renders his skills worthless. But things still sort of worked, and if the benefits of technological advance were not shared equally, at least technological advance was still happening. The point of the collapse is to go back to the beginning, before the Internet turned out to be the accelerant that would allow capitalism to spread faster than anyone could stop it. More than a reboot - a factory reset. Back to square one, at least when it comes to technology. It's unclear whether the architects of the collapse predicted what would happen, or if they would have changed their minds had they known just how much violence and waste would result. After all, resetting the Internet isn't the same as resetting the socioeconomic system that directed its use. The post-collapse world is characterised by material scarcity, where the remaining have no choice but to desperately salvage what they can from the wreckage. Without the invisible backdrop of global trade, most of the advancements that modern society depends on have gone out the window: trees are cut down as firewood; children are forced to do manual labour; medicine is basically nonexistent. All this is underpinned by the menacing control of the state, mediated through the guns and uniforms of the newly expanded military. The genius of Infinite Detail lies in its ambivalence: as much as it criticises the shortcomings of the system as it is now, it also recognises that there is no clean break from it. We can't simply press a button to undo the bad and bring forth the good all at once. Destruction is, at best, a small part of any emancipatory vision: those who destroy must also have a plan for what comes after. As one of the characters says near the end of the book: [...] Don't be scared of power. That's the other way we fucked up before, we were always scared of power, of taking the lead. We just thought everything would sort itself out somehow. It won't. It's not enough to just take power away from those in charge. If we don't use it ourselves, they just take it back. Overall: a gripping read involving cool technology (mesh networks!!), a thoughtful political critique, and a plausible plot. Would recommend to anyone who's a fan of near-future sci-fi authors like Cory Doctorow or Neal Stephenson. (My only criticism is somewhat unfair, as it stems from a genre misunderstanding on my part: I had assumed, probably the result of interpreting the book's title as a tribute to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, that the book would be literary fiction rather than popular sci-fi. So I went in expecting more interiority, depth, and poetic quality than the book had, which left me a little disappointed, because the book is driven by plot much more than by literary aesthetics. Very much in the Doctorow/Stephenson style of sci-fi, not Ursula K. Le Guin, for example.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    This was a doozy of a book to read on what turned out to be the longest blackout in recent past. Although to be precise this novel isn’t apocalypse by blackout so much as it is apocalypse by disconnect. Yes, the power goes out, but the main paralyzing factor is that a population so cripplingly attached to its gadgets and instant and constant connectivity suddenly finds that dependency taken…nay, ripped away suddenly, brutally and irreversibly. So in a way it’s very much an apocalypse now, a very This was a doozy of a book to read on what turned out to be the longest blackout in recent past. Although to be precise this novel isn’t apocalypse by blackout so much as it is apocalypse by disconnect. Yes, the power goes out, but the main paralyzing factor is that a population so cripplingly attached to its gadgets and instant and constant connectivity suddenly finds that dependency taken…nay, ripped away suddenly, brutally and irreversibly. So in a way it’s very much an apocalypse now, a very timely dystopian read for the current generation. The story is told through multiple perspectives and timelines of before and after and as such execution at times got somewhat busy and confusing…or maybe disjointed is a more apt description. But it did work, was considerably compelling and read surprisingly quickly for such a hefty volume. I found it especially clever the way the author utilized the themes of constant barter of convenience for privacy that seems so prevalent in the modern world. Technology descriptions and world building were quite interesting too. And it was seriously eerie to read a book on a day without power, knowing there was no way to look any information up, post a review or even a recharge the kindle the book was on. One of those infinite details we tend to take for granted on daily basis until it suddenly isn’t there. This novel has a lot of clever things to say about the world as we know it, shaped by internet and the world that might follow, without it. Bleak, heavy, alarmingly realistic end of the world. Recommended for discerning dystopian genre fans. Thanks Netgalley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    This book was pretty fascinating. I feel like there is a lot to unpack with it. The book’s chapters take place either “Before” or “After”. The pivotal moment being an instantaneous catastrophic destruction of the internet. The “Before” takes place a few years into the future from now. People are (unsurprisingly) even more absorbed in tech and the internet. I feel like reading the about the new technology was fascinating and believable, like I was reading about the actual future. Didn’t feel gimm This book was pretty fascinating. I feel like there is a lot to unpack with it. The book’s chapters take place either “Before” or “After”. The pivotal moment being an instantaneous catastrophic destruction of the internet. The “Before” takes place a few years into the future from now. People are (unsurprisingly) even more absorbed in tech and the internet. I feel like reading the about the new technology was fascinating and believable, like I was reading about the actual future. Didn’t feel gimmicky like a lot of futuristic tech typically seems. The “After” chapters at first seemed overdone, like would the sudden disappearance of the internet really devolve society this much? But then the more I thought about it the more I was like “oh shit, maybe”. The character Rush was great and intriguing. The other characters, I wish there was more about them, but they also were intriguing. Overall, fun and fascinating read. Got this ARC ebook from @fsgbooks via #netgalley. Set for publication in March 2019. “What brings them to cities at all, only to seemingly reject the exhilaration and machine chaos of urban life completely, obsessing instead over the faux authenticities of the organic and the artisanal? Wouldn’t they be better in the country, out in the wilds and swamps of the south, where they could kill and stuff whatever they like, and mount it on their walls, while they fixate over their homemade preserves and cross-stitch cushions, like some kind of post-Tumblr Amish sect?” “Everything we do is data now, every move we make, every word we speak or type, every photo we take, everything we see or touch. All data. Data we don’t own, even though we made it, carried on networks we don’t own. Data mined so that the algorithms can know us, watch us, judge us, analyze us —predict us. So they can tell us what to think. What to do. What to buy.” “...maybe our brains just ain’t designed to deal with networks. They’re not going to evolve to interface with millions of other people. They’re just not designed for that. And trying to force it just makes us angry and actually more alienated.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    matthew

    I never reviewed it, but I read Tim Maughan's Paintwork back in 2012, making me an oldschool Maughan fan (Maugfan?). I'm sure I heard about it from Jonathan McCalmont (pretty much all the good SF I've read has been recommended by him). I can't believe it's been 7 years since I read Paintwork and 7 years until he published his debut novel, Infinite Detail. Like Paintwork, this novel concerns itself with technology, urban spaces, music, and alternate modes of community engagement. Infinite Detail I never reviewed it, but I read Tim Maughan's Paintwork back in 2012, making me an oldschool Maughan fan (Maugfan?). I'm sure I heard about it from Jonathan McCalmont (pretty much all the good SF I've read has been recommended by him). I can't believe it's been 7 years since I read Paintwork and 7 years until he published his debut novel, Infinite Detail. Like Paintwork, this novel concerns itself with technology, urban spaces, music, and alternate modes of community engagement. Infinite Detail is split in two, cutting between the two: before the catastrophic collapse of the internet and after, when society is barely scrapping by. The highest compliment I can pay this magnificent novel is that I wish I could teach this. Maughan touches on so many of my favourite subjects: the erosion of community by the gentrification of England via destruction of council estates, the insidious grasp of global capitalism, British music of the 80s and 90s, architecture, and of course, excoriation of the white bourgeois class. This is the science fiction equivalent of the work of Mike Davis and Owen Hatherly. Maughan is only one of the only writers I've ever read in my life who writes about music in a way that is immediately gripping without ever being so abstract or Pitchfork in its metaphorical language. I listened to a long 3 hour jungle mix today at work in honour of finishing the novel. This was terrific. Easily one of the best novels I'll read this year.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Infinite Detail Author: Tim Maughan Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MCD x FSG Originals Publication Date: March 5, 2019 Review Date: March 4, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the Amazon blurb: “BEFORE: In Bristol’s (UK) center lies the Croft, a digital no-man’s-land cut off from the surveillance, Big Data dependence, and corporate-sponsored, globally hegemonic aspirations that have overrun the rest of the world. Ten years Book Review: Infinite Detail Author: Tim Maughan Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MCD x FSG Originals Publication Date: March 5, 2019 Review Date: March 4, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the Amazon blurb: “BEFORE: In Bristol’s (UK) center lies the Croft, a digital no-man’s-land cut off from the surveillance, Big Data dependence, and corporate-sponsored, globally hegemonic aspirations that have overrun the rest of the world. Ten years in, it’s become a center of creative counterculture. But it’s fraying at the edges, radicalizing from inside. How will it fare when its chief architect, Rushdi Mannan, takes off to meet his boyfriend in New York City―now the apotheosis of the new techno-utopian global metropolis? AFTER: An act of anonymous cyberterrorism has permanently switched off the Internet. Global trade, travel, and communication have collapsed. The luxuries that characterized modern life are scarce. In the Croft, Mary―who has visions of people presumed dead―is sought out by grieving families seeking connections to lost ones. But does Mary have a gift or is she just hustling to stay alive? Like Grids, who runs the Croft’s black market like personal turf. Or like Tyrone, who hoards music (culled from cassettes, the only medium to survive the crash) and tattered sneakers like treasure. The world of Infinite Detail is a small step shy of our own: utterly dependent on technology, constantly brokering autonomy and privacy for comfort and convenience. With Infinite Detail, Tim Maughan makes the hitherto-unimaginable come true: the End of the Internet, the End of the World as We Know It.” I’m sorry to quote such a long blurb. But it explains this complex book better than I could. It is a breathtaking book. Extremely original in how it’s written. It verges on science fiction, but not really, because it is so close to how things really are. It is breathtaking because it is SO close to our current reality. I don’t know what is going to bring about the total takedown of the internet. But, I know it is coming. There will be a day that we’ll be returned to life as I knew it as a child. An analog life. Spent reading books on paper, listening to music on CD or cassette or vinyl. Sitting and spending time with friends over a home cooked dinner or perhaps going to have a nice meal at a restaurant and taking time to talk with one another, and find out about each other’s life. In a slow, unhurried fashion. Before. And. After. The plot structure in this book was wonderful. Back and forth to pre and post internet in a not too hurried manner. Interesting images, both about Before and After. Interesting characters. This is a very scary book because it spells out the difficulty of life with no internet vs life with an internet that is an absolute invasion of privacy and the supremacy of government in control of all of our data. No place to be alone and unwatched. I am 66, so I grew up in a time prior to computers and the internet. I spent my childhood playing outside, or reading. A very physical, outdoors childhood. “Screen time” did not exist yet. Even into my 30’s, life was about relationships with other people, and athletics. I pity those who have never lived in the analog world, and I hope that it is not too painful, when it comes. And of course, I could be wrong: it may continue forever. So, this book. I imagine it will be one of 2019’s best sellers. I highly, highly recommend it, 5+ Stars. Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an early look at this incredible book. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #infinitedetail #timmaughan #fsg

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Taylor

    I heard about this book through a BBC news article on how societal collapse might end up being a good thing, and the next day I was surprised to find the book on the shelves of my local independent bookstore. In this book we only begin to see a glimpse of the positive potentials, but it does provide a very credible scenario for how such a collapse might take place and how it would impact the people of Bristol, my home town. The author takes us back and forth through pre and post collapse, weaving I heard about this book through a BBC news article on how societal collapse might end up being a good thing, and the next day I was surprised to find the book on the shelves of my local independent bookstore. In this book we only begin to see a glimpse of the positive potentials, but it does provide a very credible scenario for how such a collapse might take place and how it would impact the people of Bristol, my home town. The author takes us back and forth through pre and post collapse, weaving threads that come together toward the latter third of the book. It left me with many questions about the next stage of the city and the characters existence (although their American counterparts seem to give us some indication). I particularly appreciated that the book gave the character real ideologies and challenged them, and gave us a world with real dysfunctions but also the potential to make something better. It also gave us magic rooted in music and technology and reminded me that I am part of a community and when the collapse comes to Bristol (or America) I should keep a copy of this book near to refer to.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Palladino

    What would you do if the Internet disappeared? I don’t mean your home Wi-Fi shuts down for a few hours - I mean the Internet as we know it today crashes and burns. Maughan explores this idea in Infinite Detail by giving his take on life before and after a cyberterrorist attack effectively cancels the Internet. I grow fonder and fonder of ID the more it infiltrated my thoughts in the time after I finished it. The first half of the novel keeps you guessing, almost to the point of frustration. But o What would you do if the Internet disappeared? I don’t mean your home Wi-Fi shuts down for a few hours - I mean the Internet as we know it today crashes and burns. Maughan explores this idea in Infinite Detail by giving his take on life before and after a cyberterrorist attack effectively cancels the Internet. ⁣ I grow fonder and fonder of ID the more it infiltrated my thoughts in the time after I finished it. The first half of the novel keeps you guessing, almost to the point of frustration. But once the mysteries surrounding the terrorist attack were revealed, I literally sat in my bed, stared up at the ceiling, and said “Oh… my… god… THATMAKESSOMUCHSENSE.”⁣ ⁣ Aside from a couple clever reveals, Maughan’s ideas about technology in the near future kept me glued to this book. Most people wear “spex” in this futuristic world, or smart glasses that hold all of your information (literally everything) and can tell you almost as much about anyone that you look at who also wear spex. Tech lovers will want to check out this smart, dark, challenging novel. Check out my in-depth review at Ars Technica.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rodney

    "With zero bandwidth there is no calling for backup."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Unsettling in the way good could-happen sci fi books are. Troubling and thoughtful with well laid out ideas. So much to think about and discuss on algorithms, start-ups, more. It's a little confusing at the start and I like some narrators more than others--which aren't bad things! At times, Maughan goes more into details on tech stuff or music than is for me, but that's OK, because I know some readers will enjoy that. The more I think about this book, the more I like what it's saying. Neil Gaima Unsettling in the way good could-happen sci fi books are. Troubling and thoughtful with well laid out ideas. So much to think about and discuss on algorithms, start-ups, more. It's a little confusing at the start and I like some narrators more than others--which aren't bad things! At times, Maughan goes more into details on tech stuff or music than is for me, but that's OK, because I know some readers will enjoy that. The more I think about this book, the more I like what it's saying. Neil Gaiman wrote in The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction that 'What speculative fiction is really good at is not the future, but the present.' Infinite Detail is a perfect example of that. Recommend, especially to those who like tech-collapse dystopian novels. "...you can try to starve a population, deprive them of health care, power, and data, but you can't stop them fucking." (94-5) "This isn't so much a thriving, defiant artisan economy as a desperate clinging to the past, a once-significant tribal ritual still guiltily rehearsed by repentant believers, sneaking back into the same temple where they burned all the icons." (97) "See...look. Before the crash, right? Nobody was using hardware setups anymore. Everyone was on software. You could get it just by fucking blinking, right? You could get any software you wanted, that'd do anything you wanted. That'd give you any sound you could think of, pretty much. Unlimited possibilities. That was wrong, right?" 'It was?' 'Yeah. It was. It fucking was. Think about it. People could do what they liked, anything. It's why the music became so self-indulgent, so undisciplined, and then so weirdly formulaic. Good art is produced under strict limits. Forces you to work with what you've got, to focus, right? There was no focus at the end. No control or vision. Just lots of people fucking about but ultimately following each other's lead because they were downing in choices. Unlimited possibilities." (155-6) The dronegod$ letter (222) "The pinnacle of human effort had been to create a largely hidden, superefficient, globe-spanning infrastructure of vast ships and city-sized container ports--and all to do nothing more than keep feeding capitalism's hunger for the disposable. To move plastic trash made by the global poor into the hands of hapless, clueless consumers. A seemingly unstoppable beast built from parasitic tentacles, clenching the planet with an iron grip." (304) "And then Simon is back in the Zodiac, and it's motoring away across the calm bay, out toward where the Statue of Liberty stands, somehow looking ancient now to Rush, like the kind of relic of a lost civilization he feels Americans always secretly wanted it to be." (310) "I just wonder if actually this is all just bullshit, y'know? Like maybe our brains just ain't designed to deal with networks. They're not going to evolve to interface with millions of other people. They just no designed for that. And trying to force it just makes up angry and actually more alienated." (335) "It's not enough to just take away power from those in charge. If we don't use it ourselves, they just take it back." (337)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rupa

    Tim Maughan is a master of making the invisible visible. In Infinite Detail, he forces us to consider the inner workings of systems so ubiquitous that we can barely remember what it was like before we had them, let alone project what a future might be like without them. The premise of the novel is the near-instant dystopia created when all of the internet suddenly stops working. This scenario immediately brings into sharp focus one of the deep ironies about technologies of any kind – the higher Tim Maughan is a master of making the invisible visible. In Infinite Detail, he forces us to consider the inner workings of systems so ubiquitous that we can barely remember what it was like before we had them, let alone project what a future might be like without them. The premise of the novel is the near-instant dystopia created when all of the internet suddenly stops working. This scenario immediately brings into sharp focus one of the deep ironies about technologies of any kind – the higher the percentage of people who use said technology, the lower the percentage of people who have any idea of how that technology actually works. When home computers first became available, the early adopters were ones who didn’t even need an operating system to get things done on their machines, while today interfaces have been honed to such a degree that children can navigate them before they even learn to read. Given our current levels of utter dependence on decentralized internet-based systems coupled with widespread ignorance of how they work, it is frighteningly easy to imagine how quickly things would devolve in their unplanned absence. As with all the best dystopian fiction, or any fiction for that matter, there are no easy answers for who is to blame for the book’s state of affairs, what the correct solution is, or whether it’s even worth trying to rebuild the systems that were destroyed. Maughan manages to weave in ideas about surveillance, global capitalism, supply chains, food scarcity, electronic music, the nature of creativity, memory, and kinda-sorta-time-travel so deftly and seamlessly that it is difficult to imagine a nascent version of the novel in which any of those elements were absent. The excellent interview with Maughan included at the end of the audiobook reveals the ways that the author’s journalism, and travels in pursuit of the same, informed the writing of the novel and vice versa, and his deep understanding of the many varied themes is apparent. And oh, the audiobook! Any audiobook that elicits a, well, audible reaction from me is golden as far as I’m concerned. There was a monologue in this book about the inverse relationship between limits and good art that so perfectly articulated my own sentiments on the matter that I pumped my fist in my car and shouted “fuck yes!” at no one in particular. The magnificent actor Joe Sims (of Broadchurch) voices both male and female characters from Ireland, Bristol, other parts of the UK, and America so distinctly, skillfully, and enthusiastically that the book is an absolute joy to listen to despite the bleak subject matter. (The one slipup I noticed was when an American character angrily shouts something about PRIV-uh-see rather than PRY-vuh-see, but even that was a treat.) It is testament to how much I loved this book that I ultimately bought it in every available medium – audiobook because audiobooks rule, ebook because there were so many passages I wanted to look up and go back to, and of course print, because who knows when I might wake up to find myself in a world where it’s the only medium available.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Dale

    The recent congressional hearings concerning hate speech and political censorship has made it clear - we haven’t even begun to understand the ramifications of the unprecedented access we have to harmful ideologies and each other. Now apply this unwillingness or inability really, to regulate social media to the internet entirely. To big data. Data that is being gathered and sold at an increasingly alarming rate. Algorithms that determine what we see on our feeds, what we buy, what we support. Inf The recent congressional hearings concerning hate speech and political censorship has made it clear - we haven’t even begun to understand the ramifications of the unprecedented access we have to harmful ideologies and each other. Now apply this unwillingness or inability really, to regulate social media to the internet entirely. To big data. Data that is being gathered and sold at an increasingly alarming rate. Algorithms that determine what we see on our feeds, what we buy, what we support. Infinite Detail paints a painfully realistic portrait of our future. Pick this up in ten to fifteen years and you’ll get chills! Very enjoyable read after you get passed the first few chapters, which are kind of slow.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rudi Dewilde

    Infinite detail by Tim Maughan is a tour-de-force. A world that is totally depended on connectivity is thrown back when a virus hits the internet and everything stops working. How do you survive? Why did this happen? Who is behind this disaster? Going back and forth, we get a mesmerizing puzzle of the now and then. The writer jumps aptly from the past to the future and back without confounding the story. That alone is magical. What is even greater is that everything he describes feels real and p Infinite detail by Tim Maughan is a tour-de-force. A world that is totally depended on connectivity is thrown back when a virus hits the internet and everything stops working. How do you survive? Why did this happen? Who is behind this disaster? Going back and forth, we get a mesmerizing puzzle of the now and then. The writer jumps aptly from the past to the future and back without confounding the story. That alone is magical. What is even greater is that everything he describes feels real and plausible. The world, the characters, the motives, the outcome. This is a masterpiece and can stand next to Brave New World, 1984 and other great science fiction. A must buy!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I wanted to love this but the disjointed writing didn't do it for me. The plot was obvious from the beginning while reading, which didn't deter me from continuing. I was looking forward to how the story was handled and was ultimately let down. Maybe editing played a part here. I felt like some of the character stories needed to be more fleshed out and detailed. The ending left much to be desired. At first I was really into this book and reading about the spex, Rush's thoughts on oversharing infor I wanted to love this but the disjointed writing didn't do it for me. The plot was obvious from the beginning while reading, which didn't deter me from continuing. I was looking forward to how the story was handled and was ultimately let down. Maybe editing played a part here. I felt like some of the character stories needed to be more fleshed out and detailed. The ending left much to be desired. At first I was really into this book and reading about the spex, Rush's thoughts on oversharing information, and the croft as a whole movement. So I think it does have some merit. The overall theme is kind of terrifying if you think too deeply about it. It's a short read so give it a try.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Sosa

    "Infinite Detail" is a stunning look into a near-future that doesn't strain credulity. Tim Maughan captures the anxiety of contemporary life in the digital age by imagining societal collapse through the global networks we rely upon to survive. Maughan's vision is made especially disturbing from the outset as the central problem of the novel is not the result of personified evil. The setup does not involve a singular corrupt leader, totalitarian political system or natural disaster. There is simp "Infinite Detail" is a stunning look into a near-future that doesn't strain credulity. Tim Maughan captures the anxiety of contemporary life in the digital age by imagining societal collapse through the global networks we rely upon to survive. Maughan's vision is made especially disturbing from the outset as the central problem of the novel is not the result of personified evil. The setup does not involve a singular corrupt leader, totalitarian political system or natural disaster. There is simply a world designed to crumble. Fantastic era-defining work of dystopian fiction.

  20. 5 out of 5

    saranimals

    Infinite fucking detail. I absolutely loved reading this book. It's a dual timeline story, a telling of the before and after the entire internet is taken offline, worldwide. The characters are so incredibly well written. I particularly enjoyed the unstable homeless guy, Frank, but that's just me. The main character, Rush, (pronounced "Roosh" I think?) hates all manner of Insufferable New Yorker and I felt that shit in my soul. As someone old enough to remember what life was like before the interne Infinite fucking detail. I absolutely loved reading this book. It's a dual timeline story, a telling of the before and after the entire internet is taken offline, worldwide. The characters are so incredibly well written. I particularly enjoyed the unstable homeless guy, Frank, but that's just me. The main character, Rush, (pronounced "Roosh" I think?) hates all manner of Insufferable New Yorker and I felt that shit in my soul. As someone old enough to remember what life was like before the internet, it was really eye-opening to really realize how insidiously it has crept into virtually every aspect of daily life. And I like that the book didn't really purport to have all the answers, either. Anyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic will like this read. I can't even call it sci-fi, it's more like sci-not-too-distant-future.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lee Thames

    Interesting premise and dsytopian set up. Overall character development was good. However, one of the major characters is just out of sync with the rest of story. One of the several issues is the majority of the story happens 10 years after the 'event' Yet this one character ends around three years after the 'event'. Ending sets up for a sequel and there is plenty of room for the story to go anywhere; which is a good thing. I will give it try when it is released.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had shades of some of my favourite sci-fi / alternative authors without ever feeling derivative. It has the political feel of Doctorow and the cool of Jeff Noon. It is a very British book (in the best, coolest way possible), and describes a very believable disconnected future. The characters are rich and believable, the settings (Bristol in the future, and Brooklyn) richly described and populated. I know this will be one that I go back and re-read and savour a fe Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had shades of some of my favourite sci-fi / alternative authors without ever feeling derivative. It has the political feel of Doctorow and the cool of Jeff Noon. It is a very British book (in the best, coolest way possible), and describes a very believable disconnected future. The characters are rich and believable, the settings (Bristol in the future, and Brooklyn) richly described and populated. I know this will be one that I go back and re-read and savour a few more times.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Harve Lemelin

    A fascinating dystopian depiction of what transpires when plans are executed with little to no consideration of future outcomes. An interesting read, some of the character developments are somewhat weak and incomplete (that may be because it does have the feel of sequel) but don't let that deter you from reading it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Years ago I read a couple of post-oil apocalyptic-ish books in a row and was really disappointed by them. They both included some mystical bullshit that transformed the stories from an honest examining of the future into weird implausible fantasy. I had wanted a book about societal collapse in the not-too-distant future that felt real. This is that book. And unlike those others is also not cis-male hereto fantasy — Infinite Detail has plenty of strong women, pocs and queer characters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    An interesting examination of societies growing dependence on the internet, big data, the complexities and interdependence of the systems and who controls them. And what could happen if it were all to be suddenly turned off.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Franz Schuier

    Awesome! British Bass Music, a new twist on Cyberpunk (more rooted in our times), Surveillance Capitalism and well executed use of parallel Storylines. Best book in a while!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This the best dystrophy sci-fi I have read in a while! Starts slow, but once it gets going it’s a page turner!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro Melendez Jimenez

    Nice story and cautionary tale about our gadgets.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vuk Trifkovic

    A bit confused. Not very well written. Too much exposition / set pieces...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Whoisstan

    Highly recommend it. Impressive atmosphere and depth for such a short book fast forwarding into our next couple of years.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.