Eye On Sci-Fi Book Review: The Circle, by Dave Eggers

“Suffering is only suffering if it’s done in silence, in solitude. Pain experienced in public, in view of loving millions, was no longer pain. It was communion.” – The Circle

With these haunting words encapsulating the essence of this marvelous novel, Dave Eggers gives us a glimpse into a possible future that may be fast approaching, and a lot sooner and closer than we realize.

I’ll say it right now. Everybody stop what you’re doing, put the bookmark in whatever book you’re reading, and make haste to your local library or bookstore or online retailer, and get your hands on this. This book should be read and discussed by all high schoolers. Why? Because this could very well be the future we find ourselves living in. Maybe not literally, but very close to it.

Synopsis (no spoilers): Mae Holland has just been hired into her dream job at The Circle, the coolest, most technologically savvy corporation in the Big Tech field of Silicon Valley. Think of the Circle as if Google, Apple and Facebook all merged into one. There’s something that’s driving this company, something they refer to as Completing The Circle, which, in effect, is to have all services and personal data of all their customers in one special place. Oh yeah, by the way, their goal is to have every single person on the planet as a customer.

We follow Mae as she is oriented into Circle culture. She meets a parade of ambitious, optimistic and creepily-enthusiastic co-workers, who slowly brainwash and condition her into believing that the Circle has some grand Rapture-like purpose. Mae makes an easy convert and quickly becomes a staunch advocate for Circle transparency, transparency here meaning that a camera is worn around a user’s neck 24-7-365, recording everything that the user sees, says and does, while millions of people the world over can log on at any time and watch, like a TV show.

As Mae dives deeper and deeper into the Circle, we see the trappings of a cult-like mentality, a desperate drive to be liked, to be inclusive, which fuels everything the Circle does. And once the Circle wraps its tentacles around government leaders it’s evident that a conspiracy involving the transparency of the entire world is the ultimate objective. The Circle will shine its spot light into all the dark corners of the human mind and heart. The Circle will coax you out of your shell of isolation, and make you happy to be part of the wonderful global community that is the Circle. The Circle will reveal the truth about everyone, to everyone,and no one will be able to hide.

If this sounds like a conspiracy theorist’s dream novel…well, it is. But it’s also more. It’s a modern day 1984, and Dave Eggers is this generation’s George Orwell, screaming from the mountaintops, desperately trying to get our attention, pleading for us to think for a minute, before it’s too late, as we change into an ever-increasing mass surveillance state.

As I read this novel, I could not help but notice eerie resemblances in real life around me.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, along with other tech titans, want to make the internet available to everyone on the planet. This of course is a noble pursuit, of which myriad benefits will come with it, but…what will be required of these people in order to for them sign up for an internet-enabled mobile phone with various foreign Telecommunications companies? A Facebook account. He wants everyone in the world to be on Facebook. Here’s an article about it in TIME Magazine that you can read if you sign in: http://time.com/facebook-world-plan

Also, did you know the National Security Agency has constructed, and is now operating, the biggest data storage center on the planet right now, in Bluffdale, Utah? Codenamed Bumblehive, its express purpose is in sifting through and storing the records, indefinitely, of every phone call, email, text message, banks statements, etc….pretty much anything they want: http://www.wired.com/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/

And with the advent of Google Glass, wearable tech, and the proliferation of commercial drones we are only a stone’s throw away from a full-blow surveillance state.

circle eyeYou are being watched.

And people still talk about privacy like it’s something that still exists.

I don’t want to keep rambling, you know, THEY ARE WATCHING, but seriously, this book is a very important one. And the way it is written is so eloquent and clear, Eggers’s writing style so effortless, that you breeze through it very quickly. Worth every dime and minute you spend on it. Do it…so you won’t be blindsided when fiction meets reality. At least you’ll know what to expect in this brave new world…

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