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Is Technology... Bad? Summit Bass and Joma West on Anxiety in Our Time ‹ Literature Hub

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Tor Books partners with Literary Hub to present Voyage Into Genre. Every other Wednesday, the host joins Drew Broussard to converse with the authors of Tor and discuss new books, the future, and the future of the genre. Oh, there may be some surprises along the way…

This episode, we hear about advanced technology, you might call it, “Is technology… bad?”

Put on your shiny sunglasses and head to the Delhi of the near future. In an exclusive mansion where no one touches you, you will be transported back to the most important moment for mankind.



summit bus (The City Inside) has been told that his book was dystopian when he didn’t write it that way, updated the near-future narrative to include the realities of 2020 and 2021, and scripted reality. Talking about what it means to be on social media in our time. .

Shiroma West (face) shares how a conversation with a friend inspired a short story. facehow technical parenting ethics can be made even more frightening by language choices, and why she structured her novels with overlapping perspectives.

Douglas Rashkoff (Survival of the richest people) offers some thoughts on how ordinary people can regain control of technology meant to help us, rather than letting the super-rich exploit both it and us.

Read the full transcript of the episode here.

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On Summit Bass’ efforts to keep up with technology and identification with the adults in your novel:

Drew Broussard: It makes me think about the comedic angle of the book. Both of Joey’s parents are terrifyingly ignorant, and when you look at certain members of a similar or slightly older generation here in America, there is something very understandable about how the world has changed so quickly that they the person responsible for it.

Relatively early on in the book, it was like, “Of course, everyone was sharing all the data. Of course, we did all these things.” I think it happens in the next generation, they won’t be able to keep up. I mean, he’s 33, and that’s how I feel about TikTok. I can only imagine how my parents feel about most social media.

Summit Bus: I’m a little older than you, so it wasn’t TikTok for me. It was snapchat. I think he has one app that everyone has their own wall. I was in a nervous, very tenuous attempt to have a relationship with Instagram when Snapchat came along and made me physically unable to use the app. that’s what i wanted Then came TikTok. TikTok was once a giant in India. TikTok has been very interesting in India in terms of breaking down social barriers. And many people in rural India have started using TikTok to express themselves. Of course, since TikTok was banned in India, we can’t participate in the terrifying and fascinating phenomenon that is BookTok.

But yeah, I was writing my first novel as far as Joey’s parents were concerned. Because the main character’s parents are my generation in the future. We’ve been promised one country, got another, but don’t know how to deal with it and refuse to change beyond a certain point. Even if it puts you in danger. An elderly relative of mine still suddenly decides to let Facebook know how he feels. It’s never a good idea. And run to turn off the modem. This is a new experience. I don’t think previous generations have experienced anything like this.

Joma West is afraid of technology and comes to terms with it.

Joma West: I had more of a fear of technology when I started writing it. I was a self-imposed Luddite for a while. I used to use computers and other things, but I didn’t have a smartphone for many years. I couldn’t even get a cell phone for years after all my friends got them. It’s probably due to imbibing too much sci-fi as a kid you’re thinking, no, I don’t want that future! Let’s not! So, I think that there was caution and suspicion, but it has definitely disappeared. It certainly doesn’t sound all that plausible now, but at the time I was writing it I thought there was a certain amount of plausible element to where things could go if pushed in a certain direction. How.

Drew Broussard: what changed? do you know? Or was it more like a change of mood?

Joma West: I think the overall atmosphere has changed. During pandemics, lockdowns, etc., I think our reliance on technology has become a real lifeline rather than something to fear. I don’t particularly like the way Amazon hijacks everything and puts things like Alexa out there to listen. My phone is probably listening to me now. Targeted advertising is kind of grotesque, isn’t it? But I think it’s not a technology problem, it’s a capitalism problem.

Douglas Rushkoff on how to think better about the relationship between technology and humans.

Douglas Rashkoff: Am I deploying this technology, this Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, or algorithm to get someone to do something or help someone do something? there is. Think about technology in terms of what someone wants to achieve. Will this help the person do it? How can we help? Rather than creating technology that uses people, how to create technology that people use.


Tor Presents: Voyage into Genre is a co-production with Lit Hub Radio. Hosted by Drew Broussard. Studio Engineering + Production by Stardust House Creative. Music by Dani Lencioni of Evelyn.