11

A few months ago I listened to a radio emission introducing a new book from a known sci-fi author. I thought it sounded really interesting, unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the author, book or radio channel.

The story is set in the USA, in the near future. It's a dystopia that portrays an age of post-factual information, where no one knows what is actually true and what isn't. The country has fallen apart, law and order is only maintained in small gated communities. Outside of these enclaves, bandits roam the countryside. Each faction in the world has its own beliefs about what has happened to the country and defends them with violence.

Apparently the culmination of disinformation is the disappearance of some city. There are wild theories about what has happened, such as a nuclear strike, etc. But there is just no reliable information.

It is possible that a war with China was somehow involved.

10

This sounds like one section of Neal Stephenson's Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. Not all the world is filled with disinformation, but much of the American heartland is. The disappearing city is a major plot point, as well. From The Guardian review:

Meanwhile, in the “meatspace” of our world, life goes on. Shortly after Dodge’s death a midwestern town called Moab is destroyed in a nuclear attack. This is quickly shown to be a hoax, orchestrated via faked online video, massively coordinated misinformation and a few holographic special effects, but when the truth is revealed many people refuse to accept it. Fall is, among other things, an interrogation of our lamentably post-truth world, and Stephenson rolls history a couple of decades into the future to depict a US completely unmoored from factual reality. ... The way Stephenson tells it, there was a 300-year period in human history when folk by-and-large found themselves able “to agree on matters of fact not immediately visible to them”. This collective consensus peaked during what he calls “the Cronkite era”, but then “dropped to zero incredibly quickly when the internet came along”. Post-truth turns out to be a grim sort of place to live, although Stephenson’s characters aren’t ones to let the digital grass grow under their virtual feet.

The book was published June 2019, and Stephenson is a well-known SF writer, so that fits with “A few months ago I listened to a radio emission introducing a new book from a known sci-fi author”.

  • This seems like it would fit with the timeline of being mentioned on the radio a few months ago. – JMac Sep 16 at 19:21
  • Weirdly, I don't remember the whole digital re-incarnation part at all. The only thing I recall from the radio emission is a discussion on the "meatspace" narratice. I had stumbled over this book online but discarded it as not the one I'm looking for. That snippet from the guardian review makes it very clear though. – lhk Sep 17 at 8:12
4

Could this be The Jazz (2000) by Melissa Scott?

Remember those commercials at the height of the dotcom boom, the ones that showed these amazed, enthusiastic people demanding "are you ready?" in an attempt to lure you to the Internet's supposed wonders? In Melissa Scott's version, people are, but it's hell (many form nostalgiac gated communities just to avoid it). The book is set in an indefinite future America that seems to be a generation or so from now, where most of society seems bent on amusing itself to death, especially people who "play the jazz."

And the people who play the jazz in Scott's world don't have saxophones; they have web equipment, and the idea is to spread chaos through rumour. (Anyone whose first wakeup call to the dark side of the Internet occurred on the day they received their first e-mail warning about the Good Times virus will quickly get the idea.) In one sequence, in order to create a diversion at one point the heroine, Tin Lizzy, creates chaos at a shopping mall by sending out false rumors of a new product. But let Scott tell it herself, regarding the ultimate jazz her heroine "Tin Lizzy" plays: "this was something people wanted to hear, and this one, too, was picked up and repeated."

Amazon Review

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