Book Review: The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey

Title: The Future Is Yours
Author: Dan Frey
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication date: February 9, 2021
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Two best friends create a computer that can predict the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship—and society—apart.

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

If I had the technology of this book back in February 2020, then I could have found out a year ago that I would end up reading The Future Is Yours this week — compulsively, start to finish, taking a break just for the bare necessities. (And work. Because work waits for no woman. Or book. But I digress.)

The Future Is Yours is just so freakin’ cool. Two friends, former college roommates now stuck in the workworld grind, invent a technology that can change the world. Ben is charming, charismatic, and dreams of success. Adhi is brilliant, introverted, and not particularly socially adept. Adhi leaves Stanford before finishing his Ph.D. in Computer Science, frustrated that the dissertation advisors can’t see the possibilities of his complex thoughts on quantum entanglement.

But Ben gets it — sure, maybe he doesn’t get the physics, but he gets the potential, and convinces Adhi that they can make his dream a reality. The dream is seeing the future, using quantum entanglement (no, don’t ask me to explain) to create a connection between a computer in the present and itself in the future, so that someone using the device will be able to access the Internet for information that hasn’t happened yet.

Armed with a dream, Ben and Adhi set out to take Silicon Valley by storm. And while they get laughed out of plenty of rooms, they finally find a VC investor who’s willing to bet on them. From nobodies, they’re suddenly at the helm of The Future, a company that’s getting billion-dollar buyout offers from the likes of Google.

One of the basic principles of The Future is that the future it sees, one year forward, can’t be changed. Everything is connected, everything is already determined. This of course opens up all sorts of debates about free will and human nature, and also leads to The Future’s first scandal — a prototype user who takes his own life after reading about his future death. But did The Future simply report on inevitable events, or did it somehow cause what happened?

Told through memos, emails, texts, hearing transcripts, and other written communications, The Future Is Yours takes us on a journey through Adhi and Ben’s friendship and the crazy trajectory of their company. The deeper they get into The Future, the darker their lives become, and their friendship and closest relationships are all on the line… and if certain dire predictions turn out to be true, the future of human life might be at risk too.

This book is one crazy ride. At first, it feels like putting together a puzzle with pieces missing. We jump straight into Congressional hearings, then go back to Ben and Adhi’s college days, moving forward with the story while also seeing how such an incredibly messed-up situation came into being.

Through their texts and emails, we get to know Adhi and Ben’s personalities, their values, and how they view life, and see how very different they are. Adhi won my heart by virtue of a being a closet pop culture geek, making references to everything from Star Trek to Doctor Who to Twilight (yes, really). Quite awesome.

As I said at the start of this review, I just couldn’t put The Future Is Yours down. It’s fast-paced, exciting, weird, and challenging, not to mention funny and just a wee bit scary in a cautionary tale kind of way. I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked it up — and I think that was a big piece of the fun. A great read for when you want to get away from the real world for a while.

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