By Joanna Kavenna

It says something about our anxiety over the way technology is infiltrating, transforming, and controlling our lives that there have been two excellent novels offering up very similar satirical takes on the subject published just recently.

In both Marc-Uwe Kling’s QualityLand and Joanna Kavenna’s Zed a tech megacorporation that operates like a merger of Amazon and Google has basically taken over every aspect of modern life. In Zed the company is named Beetle, and its all-powerful AI and algorithms can predict individual “lifechains” so reliably that there is a real question as to whether free will exists anymore.

At least that’s the way it seems until glitches start happening. Meanwhile, there is an off-the-grid resistance forming, the Zed. These rebels may not bring the system down but their struggle does hold out some hope for escape.

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