2089 is an action adventure, with socio-philosophical themes about surveillance in society, the over-reliance on technology, and how human communities should be structured, in order to make for a happy life. The story resonates with many issues that people are wrestling with right now. The year is 2089, and technologists have developed a system for remotely tapping into the optic and auditory nerves of all humans. Everything that people see and hear is detected and this is published publicly online; nothing can be secret. It is the ultimate surveillance society. Jack Smith becomes disillusioned with the omnipresent monitoring and he blows up the old GCHQ building in Cheltenham, destroying the surveillance computers. He goes on the run across a climate-changed, post-apocalyptic Gloucestershire, with old friend Vicky Truva. The two are chased by a ragtag posse, including Vicky’s brothers, intent on bringing the apparent revolutionaries to justice. However, the fugitives have the advantage that the information and surveillance network is down... This novel will fascinate anyone interested in questions about how we should live, as well as those who like a bit of an adventure yarn in an unusual setting, those upset with the political classes, or worried about climate change.
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“Wow.” Vicky’s face was bronze in the rays of the setting Sun. Her head strained up, basking in its glory. Jack Smith was slumped at her feet in the base of the boat, where he had hidden in the shade for most of the afternoon. She leant gently against the oar handle that was trussed up as a rudder. He clambered up to sit beside her. The two leaned close, shoulder to shoulder, eyes closed, and their faces pushed up to the west.
They were a half-mile away from the southernmost and largest Severn bridge, the old M4, and the current took them towards the right of a large rock outcrop in the middle of the water. It had been exposed as the tide went out, and the highest points had already dried completely. The rufous, flat slab was textured with bumps and pools. The temperature was high, and the Sun bright, so only the rock pools remained wet. The rest had dried off to leave a heated stone field in the river. Even from a distance of several yards, the heat emitted from the stone was perceptible on the skin. Jack could feel it, warm on the back of his neck, although the direct sunlight on his face was hotter. Their course aimed under the central bridge span connecting two vermicular viaducts.
“From my desk, I’ve watched virtually every sunset over fourteen years. But in that air-conditioned constancy, you never get the beauty of it. You can’t feel it.” His eyes spent their time flitting from the Sun to Vicky’s features and back again. Her face moved downwards, to see that they were holding hands, and then looked back into Jack’s face. He gave a wan smile. They stared at each other for several seconds; neither spoke.
Vicky’s eyes suddenly widened. Before he could worry, he spotted that she was looking past him. Vicky loosed her hand from his, stood up and pointed upriver. “Is that them?” she squealed. The pitch of her voice surprised them both, and she pulled her hand back to cover her throat.
Jack held his left hand up the side of his face for shade. He saw the dark shape she had pointed at. There was definitely something in the river a mile or two behind them. He felt Vicky pass the shared hat onto his head, and dropped his hand. He could not be sure what the object was, but the size could easily be that of the narrowboat of their pursuers. She wrapped both hands around his upper arm and leant close. “Do you think they’ve found Bailey? Do you think he’s alright now? They wouldn’t come for us otherwise, would they?”
Jack could not answer. He stared at the little silhouette and wondered many things. He turned 180°, his back to Vicky, and looked down the Bristol Channel. To the south, the shore jutted into the estuary, but the other bank sidled away faster, so that the river widened dramatically in the visible distance. They were headed for the sea. He looked back to the shape, and ahead again.
The eastern shoreline was illuminated beautifully. Although the boat was drifting towards it, he fully expected the flow to move further west. They would be kept in the middle of the huge channel. For the first time, he considered the possibility of being marooned in their little boat. Thirst tickled Jack’s throat. He took another look at the boat behind and then turned back to Vicky. She watched him and her forefinger turned little circles at her temple. He noticed that she sometimes caught a strand of mousy hair, dislodging it from the yellow scarf headband. She must have spent her life repacking her hair and then slowly stripping locks back out, before resetting the whole lot again.
“I can’t promise they’ve found Bailey; but you’re right—their coming after us is a good sign.” Jack put his hands on her upper arms and squeezed. “Everything will be alright.” He gently turned her to face downstream.
The bridge hovered high overhead, with the brutal white columns at each end rising a further five hundred feet. The cat’s cradle of cables hung down all along the bridge deck, connected to the edge every ten feet. They approached the shade of the overpass and Jack looked through the picture frame it created to the open water beyond. “Where are the islands you told me about? You said they were after the second bridge, right?”
Vicky put both hands on the rear rail and leant forwards. She peered into the distance, and scanned across the river. She looked at Jack briefly, and then scanned a complete circle all around the boat. She moved a hand upwards and Jack caught it in mid-air. “The islands?”
A brief look of fear crossed her face, and the other hand rose to trace circles on the side of her head. She looked again at the southern vista between the bridge stanchions. They were almost passing underneath and heading into much more open water on the other side. She faced Jack again, her expression had become perplexed. “I’m not sure exactly. I don’t think it was these rocky patches I was thinking of. I remember two really green-looking, proper islands. Classic islands, maybe a kilometre across. There was grass and trees and seabirds and cliffs.” Vicky’s hazel eyes disappeared behind ochre eyelids for a long couple of seconds. “There were buildings. Definitely buildings. Although maybe only on one of the islands.”
Hi everyone, the crowdfunding window for 2089 is soon to close (early January) and you'll see we're still a fair way short of the target. So do tell all those friends and family you catch up with at Christmas time all about it.
And if you need something to alleviate the boredom over the holidays, my blogofthefuture.com will be continuing throughout. It's now moving into classic New Year territory…
Thanks to everyone for supporting 2089. The initial funding surge has slowed down a bit down, so please do keep sharing the website address wth friends and family and all those social media things you get up to! If you want a quick way to explain the novel, I tend to say 'it's like 1984 meets Station Eleven'. And, I address some of the themes 2089 will make people think about at blogofthefuture.com…
Thanks to all who have pledged to make 2089 become a real life book, you are superstars!
Today we reached 20%, which is good going, but I probably need to pick up the pace a little, as time is running out.
If you reckon that there's somebody you know who would be interested in the ideas in this book, please do forward the web address on to them so that we can reach the target by Christmas. Oh…
Thanks so much to all those who have pledged support for 2089! Keep spreading the good word. And the Blog of the Future is now up and running to discuss some of the themes in the novel. Check it out at, and tell everyone about that too. It gives a good flavour of some of the social, philosophical and political ideas the novel should make you think about!
These people are helping to fund 2089.