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: 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.

Book Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis


Science fiction icon Connie Willis brilliantly mixes a speculative plot, the wit of Nora Ephron, and the comedic flair of P. G. Wodehouse in Crosstalk a genre-bending novel that pushes social media, smartphone technology, and twenty-four-hour availability to hilarious and chilling extremes as one young woman abruptly finds herself with way more connectivity than she ever desired.

In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior to a marriage proposal to enjoy better emotional connection and a perfect relationship with complete communication and understanding. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and Briddey finds herself connected to someone else entirely in a way far beyond what she signed up for.

It is almost more than she can handle especially when the stress of managing her all-too-eager-to-communicate-at-all-times family is already burdening her brain. But that’s only the beginning. As things go from bad to worse, she begins to see the dark side of too much information, and to realize that love and communication are far more complicated than she ever imagined.


The world of Crosstalk is very similar to our own, with the notable exception of an advance in technology. Connection is everything, and now there is a way for people in a relationship to take a step beyond, by means of a simple surgical procedure called an EED. Through this procedures — which is BRAIN SURGERY — two people with an emotional bond open up a neural pathway between them, so that they can each feel and experience the other’s emotions. It’s not mind-reading, as the doctors are quick to point out; rather, it’s a way to reinforce the connection already developing in a relationship.

After all, why just tell someone you love them when you can let them FEEL for themselves that the love is strong and true?

Briddey works for the telecommunications company Commspan, a company obsessed with beating Apple at its own game. Briddey’s true love, Trent, works for Commspan too. After a whirlwind six-week relationship, Trent pops the question. Not a marriage proposal, but one that causes just as much gleeful celebration — he asks Briddey to get an EED with him. The gossip flies through the company almost instantaneously, and then Briddey has to find a way to inform her overly-involved family about her decision. Meanwhile, her coworker C. B. Schwartz, who works in the basement and is routinely mocked for his antisocial ways, finds Briddey and rather stridently tries to talk her out of the EED.

When the world-famous surgeon who performs EEDs for royal families and Hollywood power couples (the book includes an already out-of-date reference to Brad and Angelina) becomes suddenly available to perform the EED right away, Briddey decides to go for it, and deal with the fallout afterward. Little does she know how hugely her world will change.

Crosstalk asks us to imagine a world in which we’re not just glued to our smartphones, but in which even greater instant communication is the top prize. Total connection, 24/7 — who wouldn’t want that? Being unplugged is considered a sign of social deviance, or at the very least, dysfunction. Not only is the workplace absolutely crawling with instantaneous sharing of every tidbit of news and gossip, but even on the home front, we see a nine-year-old practically being stalked by her overbearing, hyper-anxious mother.

Doesn’t sound familiar at all, does it?

Natually, when things go wrong after the EED, Briddey makes all sorts of startling discoveries — about herself, her family, her relationship, and her place in the world.

I’ll leave the summary at that, because the break-neck pace and chapter-by-chapter reveals are what makes this book such fun.

In terms of my reaction, it’s mixed.

Briddey is an engaging character, but I can’t help feeling that she’s incredibly naive. She is so completely taken in by Trent that she doesn’t see a single red flag, even though they’re right in her face. We never really find out what her job is at Commspan, which bothers me as well. For someone who spends that much time at work (or, if not at work, then communicating with work), it’s odd not to actually see her, you know, work at all.

I enjoyed Briddey’s large, unruly, nosy family, especially her wonderful niece Maeve, who has a secret taste for zombie movies and becomes more and more central to the plot as the book progresses.

After a somewhat slow start, the plot really picks up steam, and the last third or so of the book is fast and furious and practically impossible to put down. It’s certainly a fun and entertaining read. That said, I’m not sure that the entire plotline makes sense, and the climax and resolution are both hard to follow and hard to swallow.

I also felt that some of the technological insights were a little too obvious. Commspan’s big breakthrough seems to be a set of apps that will send excuses for not picking up the phone or other such types of social barriers — but how is that new? I mean, when my IPhone rings, I can hit a button and send a “can’t talk now” message. A lot of the implied commentary on hyper-connectedness and the need to unplug felt just a tiny bit beside the point to me. We’ve had this conversation already, haven’t we?

Crosstalk, at over 500 pages, is probably about 100 pages longer than it needed to be. Still, it moves fast after the first few chapters, and I was never bored. Briddey is quite fun to get to know, and so are the rest of the characters. Despite the craziness of some of the plot points, Crosstalk is a good choice if you’re looking for a sci-fi-tinged adventure set in our own time, with plot twists and complications that, although sometimes easy to predict, never fail to entertain.


The details:

Title: Crosstalk
Author: Connie Willis
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication date: October 4, 2016
Length: 512 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley