A book about what it means to be in control

Originally written as near-future science fiction between 2003-2005, in the tradition of John Brunner and Ayn Rand, this novel looks increasingly plausible today as a commentary on the effect of social media and technological propaganda forces in modern society.

It is a few years from now ... and society's addiction to smart mobile communications is beginning to drive a wedge between communities all over the world. Citizens no longer talk to their neighbours, they connect electronically through buddy-lists and address-books, using virtual reality meeting places. Society is dissociating into little more than special interest groups and rival gangs, where institutional government and the rule of law have little meaning.

Meanwhile, companies large and small analyse `big data' to track the trajectory of the world, planning out ways to manipulate it to their advantage, and religious organizations imitate the mob to win back their own control. ``Dumbing down'' and dropping out---the spoilt and the greedy watch the tumble-drier of commerce process an existence that is going nowhere. So much for the knowledge-based economy.

In this world of overt information, a new arms race for control is gathering pace. In a desperate effort to cement new public loyalties and consolidate fragmenting government power, American media giant PhoxHollywood is tasked to create a carefully crafted computer game to train citizens into compliance. It is free for everyone on the planet and it entices people to meet and interact as never before. But the game's moral agenda attracts unwanted attention from the press who claim that it is merely a front for Whitehouse propaganda.

When a religious group moves to secure its own share of the power, an unlikely constellation of citizens, from around the globe, interested only in their own futures, unwittingly find themselves pulled together by circumstances, and playing a game of their own...

What is the meaning of control and power in society? In the story, an unlikely group of individuals uses a mixture of robotic intelligence, emergent behaviour, education, analytical comprehension, and mass marketing to try to re-establish a form of civil society in a world where riots and mob violence are undermining world stability. Political forces who would hijack the attempt for their own control try to halt their efforts, but ironically they are ultimately unable to prevent the exposing of their global and far reaching plot by cleaning staff in one building in one tiny corner of the world.