Today, I have an exclusive excerpt for you to read, and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!
Proximity (iMe Series Book 1)
Genre: Techno Thriller/ Procedural
Publisher: Serpentine Books
You can’t get away with anything. Least of all murder.
DI Clive Lussac has forgotten how to do his job. Ten years of embedded technology – ‘iMe’ – has led to complete control and the eradication of crime. Then the impossible happens. A body is found, and the killer is untraceable. With new partner Zoe Jordan, Clive must re-sharpen his detective skills and find the killer without technology, before time runs out for the next victim…
Leading the trend in speculative crime thrillers, Jem Tugwell’s thrilling and thought-provoking debut sits alongside Black Mirror and The City and the City in a compelling exploration of our near future. Proximity draws on Jem’s 20 years of professional experience as a software developer in the city to give an unnerving insight into how our world might be transformed by the rapid advance in embedded technology and fitness trackers.
What if the cash-strapped public healthcare system can be given a second life by using tech to regulate our health and behaviour?
What if we can eradicate gun, knife and other proximity crimes by tracking everyone’s activity?
What if civil liberty is seen as an acceptable sacrifice for the greater good?
What if the convenience of technology is used for control?
“Proximity is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. From my own experience, technologists are often amazed or horrified about the other uses that people imagine for their products. Clive and Zoe’s world might be closer than we think, but is it heaven or hell? How do we decide the perfect balance of free will and greater good?” – Jem Tugwell
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Proximity – A crime thriller set in a world that’s nearly here by Jem Tugwell
When I wrote my debut novel, Proximity, I wanted to explore where the current technology advances would take us. It was therefore important that Proximity felt like it was set in an alternate now so that the reader got a very real ‘that could be me’ reaction. I worry that it is all closer than we think.
However, I didn’t want to write a book about technology and fill it full of jargon. I wanted to write an accessible, enjoyable, fast paced thriller. Proximity therefore combines a crime fiction thriller with a sprinkling of science fiction in order to explore the relationship between the physical human body and data in a future where citizens are monitored at all times by the government and a technology company. Partly to imagine the potential positives, partly to act as a warning about good intentions and unintended consequences.
Proximity is not a novel about super-computers or technology building an empire to turn humans into slaves. Proximity aims to take a relevant look at what people could do with technology. It’s about who holds the power. It’s about us getting lazier.
Throughout the police investigation into an ‘impossible’ killing, Proximity asks the reader to question the value of having privacy and autonomy over their lives and how far they are willing to relinquish this for safety and security.
Technology should be a tool for humans, but even today, we are swimming in a technology-regulated universe. It seems like AI and robotics are advancing with the aim of replacing us, not complementing us. It may all start with good intentions, but like with many good things, if we overdose, the side effects can be worse than the illness.
We need to recognise the importance of our data and the potential implications of sharing our data. What happens when you share your biometric data with the state for security purposes? Who do they then pass it onto? What happens when technology that is invented for convenience is used for security purposes and to make people ‘model citizens’. What is you are forced to become ‘a better you’?
Proximity challenges us all. We are accustomed to, and actively participate in, being monitored on a daily basis, but what if by going too far, we erase what makes us human, only to turn us into living machines without a free will?
For the first time in ten years, the real me walked free. I savoured every beat of excitement that pulsed through me. All those failures, but now it was working. I let the corners of my mouth drag up an unfamiliar smile. They couldn’t see me, and what was left of the police force wouldn’t even know where to begin.
The smell of cut grass hung in the air and blended with the occasional tantalising floral notes of her perfume. It drew me along; my mind full of the things I would do to her. She was heading home through the quiet streets of Datchet, crossing in all her usual places, but simply following her signal would have been too sterile. The hi-tech soles of her shoes gave a bounce to her stride and set her hair swishing. I wanted to reach out and stroke it.
I craved the proximity.
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About the Author
I am a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University. Proximity is my thrilling debut novel, inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. Available on 6 June 2019.
In a past life, I had a successful career in investment management, and now live in Surrey with my wife. I have two great children and dog. Outside of my family and writing, my loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.
Jem Tugwell | Facebook | Twitter
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