Book: The Boy Who Fell from the Sky (The House Next Door Book 1) by Jule Owencategories: Book, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult, Climate Fiction, Dystopian, Climate Change Fiction, Futurology, Futurist Fiction, Dystopia
Jule Owenabout this book: The Boy Who Fell from the Sky is set in the near future, but it isn't a fantasy. It's a very possible world based on the latest thinking by leading futurologists. It is a world full of technology so advanced it sometimes seems like magic - cars that drive themselves, tiny flying robots that you can print at home, virtual worlds that look and feel almost real and holographic dragons. But this world has many problems too.
Climate change is wreaking havoc on the major cities of the world, including London, where our hero, the teenager Mathew Erlang lives. In many ways, his world is very familiar but many things have changed. There are two versions of the Internet - one, called the Nexus, that is closely monitored and controlled by big business and the government and a second one, called the Black Web, which is a unruly place full of criminals and political dissidents. This is where Mathew turns when he wants to find out about his peculiar, watchful neighbour, Mr. Lestrange.
The Boy Who Fell from the Sky gradually emerged from ideas discussed in the non-fiction I have read over the last ten years or so. I read the New Scientist every week, the latest books and blogs and anything I can get my hands on, on the future of everything: politics, technology, medicine and the climate.
The novel is aimed at anyone, 13 years and upwards, who is curious about where we are heading. It's an adventure story, a page-turner, I hope, with a serious message about the exponential rise of technology in the era of climate change.
When I started reading about these things, I realised that many people aren't aware of a lot of the developments in science. It's just not everyday conversation. I love technology, I love science, but there are big potential dark sides to some advances that are happening in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics and gene editing (to name just a few areas) that I think we should be widely talking about. I worry that many areas of technology that could have significant impact on humanity are being advanced without proper public discussion. Sometimes, by the way, that can mean superstition, or ignorance holds good science back. I also wanted to write about climate change and imagine what people will have to live with in the future.
The book took about 18 months to write, on-and-off. It was quick to write the first draft, but I did a lot of revision based on feedback from early readers. The second book in the series, Silverwood, was a lot quicker, because I had already built the world and set the stage.
The title came from a chapter title. The original working title of the book was "The House Next Door", which is what I've called the series. But then I realised that this particular chapter title better described the state of the main character, both in actual physical terms and metaphorically.
What I would say to my readers is this: I hope you enjoy this book. I hope you can't put it down and that it's exciting and intriguing. I hope it messes with your head! I also hope it makes you think and talk to other people about what you've read - the issues it raises about the future, in particular climate change, but other issues too about privacy online, about freedom, about where technology is leading us. And if you enjoyed it and if it did make you think, then get in touch with me, because I want to talk about this stuff with people like you!
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