The System is coming…

The System is coming…

So I want you to think about something. Back in the 1940s a man called George Orwell wrote a book called 1984 in which Winston Smith railed against Big Brother, an all-knowing, all-watching tyrant who controlled everything people did, believed and thought. It’s chilling stuff. You should read it if you haven’t.

The thing is, though, that the point of the book was to envisage a terrifying future where man (or, you know, woman) is controlled, watched constantly. And a few years ago I got to thinking… are we making the world of 1984 come true? I mean, are we actually creating it ourselves?

Think about it. Our phones now track our movements. We tweet our every thought (or update our status on facebook instead). We photograph our food and post it online; we take selfies and ask strangers to ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ us. We ask strangers whether they like our clothes, approve of our interior design, think our scrap book is cool. There are children of five with their own facebook pages where every puke, every cry, has been carefully documented and published. And sure, it might not all be public. You might regularly hit the ‘private’ button. But who are we kidding here? You think it’s really private? You think someone can’t hack in? You think one day when you’re applying for a job at some big corporation they’re not going to have a team of people scrutinising your online presence to see if you’re the kind of person they really want to hire?

The truth is, there are no secrets any more. Not for most of us. But unlike Winston Smith we’ve chosen this environment. Because it’s fun. Because it’s easy. Because it’s nice to hook up with people.

But imagine if being ‘liked’ meant the difference between success and failure. Imagine if you had to update every fifteen minutes otherwise you’d be dragged off by the police. Imagine if you could be ‘followed’ not just on twitter, but everywhere; imagine cameras in bedrooms, on the street, in cafes, capturing you, beaming your image around the world. Imagine if you could update just by talking into the chip you’ve got implanted in your wrist; your own computer in front of your eyes which connects you to the world, acts as email, phone, bank card, house key. Imagine if the number of followers you had dictated how rich you were, how much things cost, which shops and clubs you could get into. Imagine if you’d do anything to get more followers. Imagine if the alternative was destitution.

And then imagine discovering that behind the safe, happy branding of the company is a man who is intent on controlling you, controlling everyone. Imagine you rebel, fight against this tyrant. And then imagine the plug being pulled, your chip being taken: no more followers, no identity, no money, no access, nothing. What would you do? Where would you go?

And does this world really sound like sci-fi, or could it be just around the corner?

This is the world of The System, my new book, out on 1 December. I hope you enjoy it…

7 Comments
  • MBird

    My daughter has just finished you book, The Killables. She asked me if Anne Frank was dystopian. You have listed her work in your top ten dystopian fiction books at the back of the book??! I find this rather disturbing that your readership will potentially be so mislead by you. I wonder if you would redress this on your website as I feel it deserves an explanation!

    18th November 2013 at 9:20 pm
  • Rose

    I just want to say I absolutely love your Killables trilogy. I just bought and finished The System yesterday. It was really good. I wish there was more of Evie and Lucas though, I just love that couple. Do you think you’d write any short stories about characters from the trilogy because I really want to know what happens to Raffy, Lucas, Evie, Frankie etc. It’s just so good. I was also really excited when i found out The System was going to be published on the 1st December as that’s my birthday. Best present ever. I’ve read all your other books too and they’re just as great. You’re a really great writer and should just keep doing it. I’m sorry if I seem really crazy it’s just I love talking about books, especially books that are just amazing. Thanks for all the books you’ve written and keep writing.

    9th December 2013 at 1:07 pm
  • Jemma

    I am absolutely in love with your books! I am your biggest fan ever and I can’t wait until I get “The System”! Although I’m a bit confused because it said in the back of “The Disappearances” that your next book would be called “The Informers” (???). I think your ideas for your novels are all great. My favourite books are ones that are set in the future because anything can happen. I believe that only good authors can write about futuristic scenes because you have to have such a good imagination. I must admit, I’m yet to read “The System” although I am willing to get down on my knees and literally beg my mum for it! Whenever anyone asks me for book recommendations, I never hesitate in shouting “The Declaration” or “The Killables” because you haven’t lived if you haven’t read those two series. The only problem with your books is that they have an ending. :( I am so in love with your books that I just never want them to stop! Please, please, please can you write another??? Maybe you should write a prequel to “The Killiables”. Anything! Just please give us more of your works to read!
    Thank you so much for spending your time writing for all us fans! Love from Jemma. 😉

    28th December 2013 at 5:18 am
  • aqew

    If you ever lurked around the internet more, you would find sites like 4chan and many other sites where everybody values being anonymous or private.

    You’re going to have to step your writing up notches to make this sound plausible.

    You’re right. That does sound like a scary world. Exactly. No one would want it. Not even the police of that world would want no privacy. Our system in this world we already have may not be perfect, but people will prefer to it having to update every fifteen minutes.

    So everyone would just dig the chips out in a moment and your story might end before it starts.

    How would you update while you’re sleeping anyway? Your world would be full of sleep-deprived people dropping dead!

    Besides, privacy policy. Believe it or not, people actually read it! People are already boycotting Google and finding alternative search engines. People aren’t sheep. People are already moving off Facebook.

    So. Write with your best efforts and hope your story turns out well!

    13th August 2014 at 12:19 am
  • aqew

    How would a man who creates a world where you have to update every 15 minutes start anyway?

    Start out nice?

    No. The moment people suspect something is up, they will dig the chips out of their wrists. And what about programmers who program something that automatically updates using a stupid message like “I hate cheese”? Or hackers who make a load of viruses and bombard The System?

    There’s a lot of ways your story can go wrong, so try hard!

    13th August 2014 at 12:29 am
  • Amity

    Can you make your main character an asian?

    13th August 2014 at 12:35 am
  • Molly

    Dear gemma
    I have already given you an email but i also thought to write you a comment as well, hopefully i wont come acrosss as desperate but i really do wish for a reply.
    Your a huge inspiration to me and i hope to become a writer and inspire people the way you inspired me.
    Love Molly

    7th February 2015 at 10:59 am