As the Bookworm Turns by Lisa von Biela
I can see here at Shelf Pleasure, I’m speaking to an audience of genuine book fanatics. I mean that as a serious compliment, of course. See, I was “that kid” in grade school who’d rather hang out in the basement library than play outside in the Southern California sun. A true bookworm. It was the same story in high school and beyond. The library saw a lot of me. Nowadays I’m pretty much addicted to my Kindle. It goes everywhere with me, lest I risk an attack of separation anxiety.
An obsession fuels my writing. And yes, obsession is not too strong a word for it. I’m fascinated by potentially beneficial technologies that can have a very dark side if used improperly. So I strive to write novels that are entertaining on one level, and that also raise questions about different technologies and the potential to open a dangerous Pandora’s Box. Maybe that makes me a closet Luddite, but it does give me a lot of writing ideas.
Every technology—even those we consider mundane—has the potential for misuse. Where would we be without the car, for example? But cars can be misused in many harmful ways, can’t they? Or maybe they just become downright evil, as in Stephen King’s Christine. More complex and exotic technologies present even more plotline fodder.
Not a day goes by in our modern world where there isn’t some new technology in the news. Many of these advances could bring tremendous benefits to people and society as a whole. New medical technologies constantly arise that can help us avoid or conquer terrible diseases. However, these things are complex, and bring with them the possibility of unintended consequences. What’s more, they raise the potential for outright misuse.
How about implanted cardiac devices with Bluetooth technology to transmit monitoring information to your doctor? What a great invention—any anomalies can be tracked and addressed in a much shorter time than ever before possible. But…what could possibly go wrong? Could someone hack into it? What might happen then? See, that just begs to have a plot developed around it, populated with some compelling characters, and voila! A new technothriller is born.
Back in the early days of science fiction, authors had to invent these things out of whole cloth. Today, it seems, technology is advancing so quickly that it provides a constant flow of inspiration for new ideas, and the skill lies in fashioning an engaging, entertaining plot that will also hit the reader with a creepy, lingering “what if” feeling afterwards!
Lisa von Biela worked in Information Technology for 25 years, and still claims there is no application she cannot break in testing. She left the field to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. She now practices law in Seattle, Washington. One of her legal articles, a research piece published in the Food and Drug Law Journal, was cited in an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lisa’s first fiction publication appeared in The Edge in 2002. She went on to publish a number of short works in various small press venues, including Gothic.net, Twilight Times, Dark Animus, AfterburnSF, and more. The Genesis Code is her first novel. Her second novel, The Janus Legacy, is coming in February 2014, and her first novella, Ash and Bone, is due out in May 2014. All her books are published by DarkFuse. Follow her on Twitter @lisavonbiela.
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