By Ekta R. Garg
February 24, 2021
Genre: Science fiction thriller
Release date: February 9, 2021
Rated: Bypass it / 2 stars
Two friends create a piece of technology that they think will be the next gamechanger in Silicon Valley. As they work on the details, however, their friendship and other relationships—not to mention the fate of the world—are put at risk. Author Dan Frey tries to keep the mood lighthearted but also keeps his readers at arm’s length in the unsuccessful novel The Future is Yours.
Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry know they have the next big piece of tech on their hands—really. Former classmates at Stanford, the best friends are sick and tired of working their boring day jobs. When Adhi uses his Ph.D. dissertation to talk about a machine that allows users to see into the future, Ben knows it’s only a matter of time before they start rolling in the money.
The challenge, of course, is building the machine and getting investors on board. Ben leaves Adhi to work on the details of the technology itself; he freely admits that of the two of them, Adhi is the bona fide genius. Instead, he does what he always does best: leverage personal and professional relationships to get the money and lab space they need to build a prototype.
Soon enough, they have the machine built and start looking into the lives of their future selves. Ben is ecstatic at what he sees. Their company, which they call The Future, is disrupting every convention. He and Adhi are being hailed as the next hot inventors to come out of Silicon Valley. The parties, the money, the fame and attention—it’s everything Ben has always wanted.
Adhi is a little more reluctant about the entire venture. Although he started out as enthusiastic as Ben about The Future prototype, looking into events one year down the line proves to be unsettling. Along with all the good that will come to Ben and him, there are plenty of bad situations as well. People die; governments threaten one another. Sporting events get disrupted, and the blame is being put on The Future and its technology.
The friends begin bickering about their goals. Ben wants to push forward. Adhi says they need to reevaluate. As they start disagreeing about what they really want from The Future, issues with the prototype begin cropping up. It’s only a matter of time, Adhi argues, before what looked like a rosy life ahead actually might become a horrendous one.
Author Dan Frey chose an unconventional format for the novel. Instead of a straightforward narrative, the story is told through a series of emails, text messages, news articles, and Congressional records. The result is that readers will feel like they’re mostly on the outside of the action. They might find it hard to drum up much sympathy for Ben. Adhi is slightly more sympathetic as a character but doesn’t seem like a full-fledged protagonist in his own right. His role is more to support Ben’s ambition and hubris.
Also, while the friends begin their company after their graduate school days, the tone of the book sounds more like Ben and Adhi are still in college. Ben’s devil-may-care attitude seems fitting at first, but as a character he doesn’t change throughout the novel. At some point, his frat boy approach gets tiresome.
Other aspects of the book are left sorely undeveloped. Ben and his wife, Leila, have a tumultuous relationship, but readers don’t get to engage with that part of the story as much as is warranted. Frey positions Adhi as a dark horse figure, but it’s questionable by the end if Adhi has really succeeded at much of anything.
The technology, too, feels too vague to cheer on. Readers don’t get much more information on it other than the fact that it looks more or less like a standard computer and allows users to see one year into the future. Characters use the prototype almost exclusively “off stage,” which makes it harder to get excited about the machine.
The ending—as in, the last few pages—unravels the entire story, which might frustrate some readers. The novel starts on a promising note but doesn’t end strong. I recommend readers Bypass The Future is Yours.