The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey

The reading experience of this was really interesting to me: I spent maybe the first and last fifteen percent of the book deeply skeptical but was absolutely immersed in everything in between.

The premise is simple, for a science fiction novel. Two best friends from college found a Silicon Valley startup after one of them develops a machine that allows people to look for information up to a year in the future. Adhi Chaudry is a socially awkward nerd who happens to be a scientific genius. Ben Boyce is a born salesman with a talent for navigating the vicious world of high-tech venture capitalism. Together, they plan on making The Future available to everyone, to the consternation of governments and big business alike. But when the seemingly immutable future they’ve modeled their entire philosophy on shows signs of changing, the best friends, whose relationship has already been sorely tested by the demands of their business partnership, begin to differ significantly on what they want to do with their technology next, with possibly fatal results.

Told in extremely engaging format — collecting emails, texts, blog posts, transcripts and more — this is a fast-paced novel that works best as an examination of the ways friendships grow and fracture with time and stress. Ben and Adhi are both deeply interesting and flawed people trying to do what they think is best as they’re beset by moral and legal complexities in the attainment of their dreams. The epistolary format is really great for showcasing both their private thoughts as well as how those contradict the public things they say and do. It’s also a great way to philosophize over destiny and free will, as well as conceptions of time and inevitability (with a very cool Hindu perspective, as well.) Bonus points for drolly satirizing how little government understands technology, fitting given that the idea for this novel came from Dan Frey watching Congress (often clumsily) interrogate Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook.

What didn’t work was the science, oh Lord. Reading Adhi’s initial treatise leaping from instantaneous quantum transmission to outright time travel made this Information Technology major (who studied quantum physics for fun because my uni didn’t offer those courses) mutter, “‘Consequently’ is doing a lot of work in this thesis.” I was also unimpressed by Adhi’s choices at the end of the book, which seemed both self-defeating and somehow more destructive than the future he feared. The whole “I’m going to burn everything down if you don’t do what I tell you” is a wildly unsympathetic stance that eschews positive change for melodramatic villainy under the guise of humanitarianism.

What I did enjoy, aside from the gripping writing and style, was how I kept singing “Troy and Abed in the MORNING!” while reading this. It’s so great to have the two leads be Black and Indian respectively (and I know Abed is Arab, but Danny Pudi is half-Indian, so visually it works) and to have their complicated friendship be the focus here. The Future Is Yours is actually already in development with HBO Max, and while Mr Pudi and Donald Glover are probably too old for these roles, I’ll definitely be thinking of them as our heroes till the actual casting is announced.

The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey was published February 9th 2020 by Del Rey and is available from all good booksellers, including

Want it now? For the Kindle version, click here.

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  1. Oh yeah, I like my time travel as hand-wavy as possible. I mean, a good time-travel story can be a lot of fun to read, but trying to make it fit with science is not going to end well.

    1. For real. The weird thing is that the quantum mechanics he was discussing in the book would make space travel a far more likely prospect. It’s one thing to shorten time, another to reverse it altogether. I have a pretty high tolerance for science-as-magic or vice versa but the quantum leap (if you will) here was like saying, “Clouds float in the atmosphere, therefore anti-gravity devices!” The latest Avengers movie actually got the hand-wavy part right: I know it’s nonsense, but they didn’t say anything specific enough to make me go “well, actually” so I could just enjoy the ride.

      1. The near miss is somehow more frustrating than the thing that gives you a consistent in-world dose of handwavium. The St Mary’s books are great time-traveling fun because they don’t even attempt to explain how, just that it involves a whole Tech section of the institute with big spaces, lots of wires and tubes, and the occasional explosion. And then the author simply gets on with writing the hell out of the story.

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