A bit of a departure for today’s Skwib. I’m currently engaging in a lively discussion of The Fridgularity over on Goodreads with The Next Best Book Club (TNBBC), and I thought I’d pull out some of my answers and repost them here.
You can join the discussion any time, but you’ll have to join Goodreads and TNBBC. (Of course you can view it at your leisure without participating, except on a quantum level.)
General question first: where did the “inspiration” for this madness come from?
Like many of my ideas, the genesis of The Fridgularity began on the beach, where I like to walk. I had been musing quite a bit about how much time I spend on the Internet — this would have been about the summer of 2010 or so — where I was Tweeting up a storm and generally exploring social media as a way to promote my earlier books. I’d also been noticing amongst my students that they were TOTALLY absorbed by social media, particularly Facebook. (I teach web design, information architecture, digital imaging and so on at a university here in London.) So absorbed, in fact, that I started to notice they had trouble paying attention to everything. Even when I was sitting next to them, helping them with their own projects, their FB pages were open in a tab, they had their mobiles buzzing away, and their attention spans were about 5 seconds. And then I thought, what if all that was taken away? (Yes, it was a little professor’s fantasy.)
And in my lecture on web standards (my day job is teaching web design to bemused students at Western University), I had been joking for years about how we would need to design websites for all kinds of screens, including those in refrigerators. Then that began to happen — fridges with web connections — and it started to jell. What if the web itself became aware, and it only wanted to talk to us through our web-enabled fridges?
My first novel, The Amadeus Net, also features a self-aware network, though it is the network of one finite city, and its a secret. I thought it would also be interesting to see what effects the idea of self-aware machines would have on humanity in general, and then I was off to the races.
HAL is definitely an inspiration. As are many of the self-aware machines we’ve seen before … the terminators, the androids in the Aliens franchise, Asimov’s robots, and so on. So it’s a tested trope in SF, but I wanted it to be a little more off-beat from what we’ve seen before, but still thought provoking and (I hoped) accessible to a wider audience.
The discussion is here. You can get the book wherever books are sold online, though if you want to save a few bucks, you can buy it here for $3 off with this code: YGMVF2ZY. It’s also available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.