In the year 2049, cyber terrorists changed the face of the world as we know it. Everything ever shared on the internet – every email, every picture, every secret – is accessible for free, to everyone.
In the wake of this complete erosion of data privacy and security, the world has withdrawn from the internet and citizens won’t go out in public without wearing a mask. Onto these masks, they project digital avatars: faces, human and animal alike, which disguise their true selves. The more expensive the avatar, the more lifelike, with the poorest in society wearing either blank, white masks or becoming walking adverts for biggest avatar companies.
Kara Finch works as a digital avatar designer for MyFace, the largest company of its kind in the United Kingdom and the source of many of the countries cheapest, most popular digital avatars.
When the integrity of MyFace’s code base is compromised, Kara is drawn into a conflict between opposing shadowy factions. The government wants to create tools to ’unmask’ the users’ identities. Hackers want to open source the code and make it possible for anyone to customise their avatar however they want, even if it means being able to steal another person’s identity.
What was the source(s) of inspiration for 1000 Faces?
So many things. It seems that hardly a week goes by without some kind of data security breach being reported in the news. Just recently, there have been some very high-profile instances of ransomware infections throughout the world, particularly in the UK. All of this together got me thinking about what would happen if someone out there decided to make all cloud data public. All messages, images, transitions – of everyone. How would society react if all anonymity was stripped away from the internet if everyone’s complete browsing history became public knowledge?
I couldn’t imagine a version of the world where humans shunned technology as a response to an event like that – not when our lives are so wrapped up in technology now – but I did think that our relationship with technology would change. It seemed plausible that we would adapt our use of technology to fit this new status quo. Out of that came the idea of the digital avatar, a mask that hides your face and can be controlled like an Instagram or Snapchat filter. The avatar would be a means of preserving your identity when you interacted with other people in public spaces.
Can you tell us a little bit about Kara Finch?
She’s a young woman who has grown up in a world where anonymity in public spaces is the norm. She’s part of the first generation to grow up with this strange sense of distance from the world around her. Like just about everyone else, she couldn’t imagine going outside without a mask on – yet she has this bone-deep need to be close to someone. To her, the mask feels like it’s creating oceans of distance between her and the people around her. Though the thought of it terrifies her, she wants to find a connection with another human being. It’s this longing for intimacy that drives the story of 1000 Faces.
How can Science Fiction be a platform to discuss our currency society?
Steven Spielberg said it better than I ever will: “There is no such thing as science fiction, there is only science eventuality.” Science fiction is like a telescope that provides a glimpse into a possible future extension of our current reality. It makes us think about the implications of the choices that we’re making and how, in years to come, the consequences of those choices could shape the world. Often, humanity as a whole is so focused on the here and now that we don’t contemplate the future. It’s not unfeasible that, within our lifetimes, the world as we know it will change dramatically. The rapid development of technology and medicine continue to provide us with moral and ethical dilemmas that seem to cry out for exploration and discussion in fiction.
What has been most challenging to write in this book?
Trying to imagine a society in which everyone is masked in their daily life raised a lot of tricky questions. I started with that single premise and a lot of the world, as it is in the novel, evolved from there. Some of the things I’d initially thought of as challenges, such as how might someone who was continuously masked prove their identity or use a document like a passport, became great starting points for developing new, unusual ideas.
What do you think of your experience with Inkshares?
Challenging! At the beginning of this year, I successfully funded my first book, Witherfist, through Inkshares, and that was my first attempt at crowdfunding anything. It’s a skill that, I think I can safely say, doesn’t come naturally to most authors, being the introverts that we are. It pushed me out of my comfort zone almost every day, but it has been fantastic to share my work and connect not only with readers but also the great community of authors that Inkshares has built up.
NG: Thank you very much for being with us today! Good luck with winning the contest!Jenny Graham-Jones is a science fiction and fantasy author based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. She spends her days at her job as a software developer and her evenings writing about the weird and the wonderful. You can follow her on Facebook, and Inkshares.