“Infinite Detail” by Tim Maughan— A Look at a World We Hope Will Never See

Maughan, Tim. “Infinite Detail: A Novel”, MCDx FSG Originals, 2019. A Look at a World We Hope We Will Never Have Amos Lassen “Infinite Detail” takes us into “a world in the wake of fake news, diminished privacy, and a total shutdown of the Internet” and it is very scary. The Croft is a digital no-man’s land in Bristol’s center. It is cut off from thesurveillance, dependence on data, and corporate-sponsored aspirations that havetaken over the rest of the world. In ten short years in, it has become a centerof creative counterculture. Now it is coming apart, radicalizing from inside. When its chief architect, Rushdi Mannan, takes off to meet his boyfriend in New YorkCity that has become now the apotheosis of the new techno-utopian global metropolis, there are questions as to whether the Croft will survive. Whenan act of anonymous cyberterrorism has permanently turned the Internet off, globaltrade, travel, and communication collapsed and the luxuries that had characterizedmodern life become very scarce. In the Croft, Mary (who has visions of people presumed dead) is sought out by grieving families who want connections to lostones. Whether or not Mary has that ability is uncertain; she could bepretending just so that she can stay alive. Like this novel, we are becoming increasingly dependent upon technology and we seem to find comfort in autonomy and privacy. We do not really understand that the end of the Internet means the end of the world as we know it. (Imagine if you could not use your cell phone for two days— yes, we lived like that before the Internet but can we do so again?). “Infinite Detail” is a very frightening look and the implications of a world that depends upon networking. As we read, we face questions about our relationship to technology. Writer Tim Maughan understands why the world we live in works and he also has great knowledge of the way subcultures are structured and operate.  He has written a very powerful narrative and gives us characters who will not allow themselves to be crushed in the world of the new technology. He presents us with hard truths that we do not want to heed and offers a dystopian scenario and critique of life in late capitalism. With civilization being dead, the book is about trying to figure out what to do next. “Infinite Detail” is a much-needed perspective on the Age of the Internet and presents us with a vision of what to expect when everything fails.

Leave a Reply