The following is the introduction excerpted from my new book, Juarez Square and Other Stories
The forces shaping contemporary life often feel like they’re moving our world in ominous directions. Technological innovations celebrated as progress frequently seem to bring as many curses as blessings. Fossil fuel-powered industrialization, for example, has ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity in much of the developed world, but at the expense of environmental disasters, petty oil dictatorships, and global climate change. And advances in information technology have been both a source of inspiration and a sad illuminator of our inner selves. As amazed as I am at the wonder of supercomputers pondering the origins of the cosmos, I’m equally as crestfallen by the mind-sucking banality of social media.
The stories in this collection revolve around people whose lives become entangled in the unintended consequences—and sometimes the intentional abuse—of advanced technologies like robotics, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and drone warfare. Many of the tales take place in the US-Mexico frontier region, where the future is borderless, savage, and Anglo and Latin cultures have, after generations of commingling, evolved into something which is neither Anglo nor Latin, but something in between.
I freely admit it’s possible that I’m overly sensitive to my environment, that my concerns may be exaggerated. And since I can’t really be objective here, I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to decide whether this collection is a harbinger of potential dangers we face, the proverbial canary in a coalmine, or whether it’s simply a literary diversion (hopefully an entertaining one) into an imagined future.
And to be sure, it’s not all near-future craziness in Ciudad Juarez. You’ll also find stories about a high-stakes political war on a manmade island-nation floating in the Atlantic, an unconventional woman running a robot brothel in Madrid, and a charismatic AI that takes the fashion world by storm.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book. And feel free to send me a note and tell me which stories you liked (or didn’t) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston, March 2015