The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people, with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you, it is as it is imagined by someone else.
Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment they realise that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them.
A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us, it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner. Ings takes the satire and mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century.
The advent of augmented reality occurs amid doomsday preparation in British author Ings's dark near-future bildungs roman. In an unnamed European city, friends Conrad and Ralf design wearable technology that overlays 3-D images onto reality. Some decry this intrusion into public space, but others see it as the wave of the future, and wealthy investor Bryon Vaux offers to purchase Conrad and Ralf's company. Conrad recognizes Vaux as a disturbing figure from his past and flashes back to his childhood growing up in his parents' dilapidated hotel. His father made sensory vests for blind veterans; his erratic mother, Sara, disappeared; and his best friend, Michel, was preparing for the fall of civilization. When Sara was found dead in the trunk of the family car, young Conrad took drastic action. Ings infuses his dystopia with harsh descriptions of abandoned landscapes; Michel, who disdains his bleak surroundings, is obsessed with building a boat to survive the end times. Slowly creeping toward a society of virtual experiences, the story provides mystery with vivid references to water, floods, and the characters' persistent pursuit of detachment from reality.