Broadcast

Broadcast
© 2017 Liam Brown
288 pages

Most people, if approached by a corporation and asked for permission to plant a microchip in their brainstem, would say “Nope” and back away from the crazy man. But David Callow isn’t most people: he’s a famous for being famous YouTuber whose main asset is a pretty face, and his time in the spotlight is beginning to fade. Becoming the star of a revolutionary new show and broadcasting Himself, Unfiltered! seems just the ticket for reigniting his career and avoiding the pitfalls of has-beendom. Lost on David in his anxiety to stay hip are the terms and conditions he eagerly signs on to, and by the time he realizes there’s more to the experiment than enhancing his stardom, he’s absolutely lost.Broadcast is a chilling look into the possible future of neurotechnology, and a not-too-subtle critique of social media’s effects on our mind.

David is easily the shallowest, most self-absorbed character I’ve ever endured in fiction — and I’m fairly certain that this is done on purpose. A youtuber and ‘influencer’, he spends most of his time snapping shots of himself and offering insipid thoughts about the meaning of life. His decision to take part in the experiment is not the result of a careful examination, or a purposeful interest in advancing neurotechnology; it is instead the reaction of a weak, vain main who fills his nights with booze and MDMA and shudders at the thought of losing his status as a celebrity. Were it not for for the sheer interest in the story itself — the possibilities of the Mindcast technology, and the knowing reader’s speculation that something horrible is going to happen, we just don’t know what it is yet — he would not be worth reading about. As the story progresses, however, as David begins to realize the awfulness of having his every thought exposed to the world, when people avoid him for fear of what he’ll think about him, when he becomes a total victim of his own solipsism — one can’t help but feel sorry for him. The vanity falls away, replaced by fear, isolation, panic. The technology can do far more than was told to him, and he is powerless to remove it — he is nothing but the unwitting prisoner of his own mind and the corporation that effectively controls it.

Broadcast is short, but effective in drawing the reader into this story that begins with an obnoxious dolt, and ends in existential dread, rendered especially salient by the reader being just as anxious as the subject.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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8 Responses to Broadcast

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    I have no doubt that there would be people out there who would sign up to this just for the ‘clicks’. The number of people on Social Media who think that death is preferable to being anonymous is probably huge. I actively feel sorry to Teens today. We’ve created a world that must be Hell for them.

    • Nancy Turkel observed that in her “Alone Together”…one of the teens asked her, so plaintively, if it would ever end — “it” being the nonstop demands for attention his phone placed on them. And that’s not even considering that literally everything they post, regardless of context, will come back to haunt them now because website-specific signups are being eliminated in favor of global signsin…

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I remember a few years back that one of our contractors had a birthday coming up & some people were getting him a gift but didn’t have some details they needed so decided to look him up on Social Media. They were HORRIFIED to discover that he didn’t have a Facebook page. It was the talk of the office for DAYS [lol]. I’ve even heard so-called relationship experts who strongly suggested ditching someone who didn’t have a Social Media ‘presence’ because they’re obviously hiding something BAD. I’ve even heard that (I think it was the FBI or HSA) suggest that NOT having any Social Media accounts indicates that person is, at least potentially, a Terrorist! I did wonder when they’d make such things compulsory. Maybe you’ll get a twin Facebook & Twitter account as part of getting a Birth Certificate… [lol]

      • I’ve heard that some employers find it suspicious if you don’t have a social media footprint at all.

        The social security administration is experimenting with something called id.me — I wouldn’t be surprised if more government agencies embrace it. Not surprisingly, it’s awful to use, requiring video selfies, photographs of driver’s licenses that never work, etc.

  2. Marian says:

    This book sounds right up my alley, obnoxious YouTuber and all. 😆 I have an extra high tolerance of shallow characters right now, since I’m reading The Secret History which is about 5 or 6 of them. I’m sure it’s shallow of ME but I love that cover, too!

    • The cover features in the story! When David is first chipped, the system is still learning to read him, and all it can manage is colors to indicate his emotional state. The color wheel is used by his viewers to ‘translate’ his mood swings.

      That book you’re reading sounds ….interesting, to say the least. I had to read a bit about it on goodreads and amazon!

      • Marian says:

        Ooh, even better!

        I should have a review for The Secret History soon – pretty mixed feelings. XD

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I was definitely less than impressed by ‘Secret History’ mostly (as far as I can remember) because of the lack of likable/relatable characters. It was supposed to be a work of towering fiction which just fell flat to me….

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