In the future, an artificial intelligence governs the citizens of Albany. Life is perfect.
The Crossgates Mall is a bustling center of activity: a three-dimensional projector shoots up to the ceiling in one of the corridors. The selection of food is second to none. For the kids, an arcade filled with fully immersive holographic games is always a hit.
Beyond the mall, a neighborhood greenhouse project reaches sky high, providing organically grown fruits and vegetables to half of New York. A point of pride for the city, as it is one of only a few pilot projects across all of America.
But Carl Winston will soon find out that this is only an illusion. His entire life is a lie.
This is the premise of How to Enslave a Human, by Dylan Callens.
The future of Albany, and the rest of the world, is in peril. While people live under the perception of luxury, the world is crumbling. People are blissfully unaware that they are starving to death, thanks to an implant that fools people’s senses.
According to Callens, “Albany is the perfect setting for this novel. There is plenty for the characters to see and do while the artificial intelligence feeds citizens a persistent illusion. Once Carl sees what has become of his home, he sets out to find answers and bring it to a stop.”
The New York State Capitol buildings are still the hub of government activity. While the buildings were updated to reflect the futuristic tone of the story, it still serves as a center for communication. “People must go for a yearly, government-mandated psychological exam. I think anyone that has even a slight distrust in the government system will find the psych exam eerie,” Callens says.
He adds, “I really feel that the story asks people to consider two things. First, I hope it inspires people to embrace the best of humanity: each other. Second, I hope it shows the need that we have to closely monitor technological progress. I love technology but we have to ensure that it doesn’t consume us.”