Julia’s Memories is a fictional futuristic memoir that recounts the life of an artist and activist going into her 55th birthday. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this novel?
First I want to thank you for reading the novel, it’s not an easy read. But to answer this first question: I can’t really remember right now anymore what themes I was thinking of when starting with the writing of this novel. I guess I wanted to explore Julia’s live as the daughter of Henk, the protagonist of The Game Changer, and I wanted the atmosphere to be different then this book about the harbor of Rotterdam. I think I remember just now that I had something like the writing of Proust, Nadas and Faulkner in mind. In this sense though the novel is finished for me and the notes I wrote have been burned.
Julia is an artist and activist and it seems that shes has done many interesting things in her life. Did you put anything from your own life into this book?
No, not that I recall. But probably there is some of this influence in between the lines, although the main character is a woman. Probably it’s more present in Daan his letter after her asking how he sees events of the past.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Now that part 1 and 2 are being proof-edited by Cate Baum, I am working on Part 3 of the Amor Mundi series. I have no idea when it will be finished yet. Thanks for having this interview.
Julia’s memories (part 1 of the Amor Mundi series) is a biography and coming of age novel, written from the future.
Julia, a passionate artist and activist, writes her memoires. She does so within the year 2050. This gives us an idea how the Transition has been shaped, how the social revolution is partly achieved through her artworks, after her father fled the Netherlands in 2014.
June 2050. Julia, a renowned artist, celebrates her 55th birthday. Encouraged by the mayor of Rotterdam she decides to write her memoirs. She wants unravel her past, to understand it better, and hopes that youth will be able to learn something from this candid quest in her hard-won life. Being the daughter of a born entrepreneur and businessman and partly raised by the high society family from her mothers site, being confronted with tragedy in her youth, she describes how she struggles to get a grip and slowly manages to form her own, powerful, identity. Fortunately, she gets help from her imaginary friends, from a local artist and from the Romenian secretary of her father. Meanwhile however, during her writing, fragments of another reality, fragments that increase in quantity and intensity, distract her and influence her memoirs.
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A futuristic look at one woman’s life is what readers will find in Julia’s Memories by Dave Drӧge. The book is told from Julia’s point of view as she dictates her life to her PR robot. It’s an intense read that follows our protagonist as she navigates her life in this new world. However, her story takes place in 2050, which is not far off from where we are today. Readers in their twenties and thirties will find themselves identifying with Julia as she describes what is a not-so-distant future, but one we may not be comfortable with just yet. While there are no flashy light saber battles in this unique science fiction story, this is a story of a woman’s experience with her life which transcends time.
The first thing to keep in mind about this book is that it is an English translation. That being said, it becomes easier to ignore the spelling or grammatical issues that crop up from time to time. They are not so great that they detract from the content of the story, but they are there nonetheless. There is a lot of content in this dense book. Not only is the word count dense, the content is dense. This book is a sort of existential look at a person’s life. With that comes philosophical thinking and a viewpoint that is unique.
If philosophical thoughts and conversations about what makes up humanity are your thing, then this book is definitely something that you will enjoy. Drӧge certainly dives right into the existential theme that he has built this novel upon. Seeing this world through Julia’s memories gives readers the ability to distance themselves from it and see things in a different way. While there are things that have occurred quite differently from our current timeline, there is no doubt that reading a book that takes place in 2050 is daunting to those who will live to see it. Less than 50 years away yet with the technological advancement one comes to expect from future-exploration books.
While there are a few drawbacks to this book, I found it to be an interesting read, if you can get past the seemingly insurmountable walls of text that will greet you on every page. This book offers a fascinating exploration into the human condition, it picks it a part piece by piece and examines each one.
Readers will find an interesting life-story in Julia’s Memories by Dave Drӧge as the book explores the memoirs of the title character. While this book has been translated, it is linear and easy to follow. That doesn’t make it any less of an impressive declaration of the human condition in a not too distant futuristic world. This book is definitely the novel to pick up if you want to philosophically muse about what it means to be human.
Pages: 364 | ASIN: B07DWJQQ1M
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Interflow of Things is a highly realistic vision of the future where an A.I. seeks to segregate people. What served as your inspiration while writing this fascinating novel?
Well I guess the inspiration for the segregation is the idea that through A.I. society will become simpler, and the crowd will accept this and embrace this as something good. Dividing society in leaders, hardworkers, creative and relatively useless people is of course rather coldhearted and narrow-minded, but let’s not forget that a lot of people use these kind of phrases already, it’s in fact quite human to do this unfortunately. I guess A.I. has the danger of strengthening prejudices as we see in several examples already used, like f.e. a law system implemented.
I think you did a fantastic job creating an A.I. in immersive detail. What kind of research did you do ensure you portrayed the traits of A.I. accurately?
The writing of the A.I. chapters was intuitive, but I did study From Bacteria to Bach and back from Daniel Dennett and used it her and there. Furthermore I have read passages of On intelligence from Jeff Hawkins, How to create a mind from Ray Kurzwell, Superintelligence from Nick Bolstrom, Homo Deus from Yuval Noah Harari, Cosa Nostra, A History Of The Sicilian Mafia from John Dickie and lately the book Life 3.0 from Max Tegmark. This last book, I plan to use a bit more in part three of the cyclus.
I felt that this book was an ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” we are experiencing now. What is one common misconception you find that many people have about A.I.?
I don’t really know, I guess people slowly will get used to more A.I. without thinking about it that much mainly, or even without realizing its implications. The idea that A.I. might become conscious is something that is quite hard to comprehend, personally I have to use my imagination and read books like Max Tegmark his Life 3.0 or Daniel Dennett and then see it might indeed be possible. In Life 3.0 a number of scenario’s have been stated of the possible future, that’s interesting to read and discuss.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
The Game Changer I consider as part zero of a series of novels with the name Amor Mundi. Part 1 is the novel Julia’s memories, I am translating this novel into English at this moment and I am planning to publish it in one piece with Interflow of things, since the two really follow each other like it’s one novel. My plan is to let a professional editor look at this part 1 and 2 novel called ‘Julia’s memories and the interflow of things’ thoroughly, that’s really needed, I know. For the interflow of things I didn’t have the energy to do a good job in translating yet, I am sorry for that. Furthermore, I am working on a third part using Life 3.0 of Max Tegmark as inspiration.
Julia’s memories info:
‘Julia’s memories’, announced as the 1st novel of the AM cycle, contains partly the same characters as the novel The Game Changer. Julia is the daughter of the protagonist: Henk VWS. Julia is also the one who will tilt society, also according to her father Henk, although his insight, his idea of how to achieve that, is not at all like hers. In addition, certain events are now not described by Henk VWS, but from her (2050) perspective.
Back cover text: June 2050. Julia, a celebrated artist, celebrates her 55th birthday. Encouraged by the mayor of Rotterdam she decides to write her memoirs. She wants to try to unravel her passionate past, to understand it better, and hopes that the youth will be able to learn something from this candid quest in her life. Meanwhile, however, during her writing, she receives fragments of another reality, fragments that increase in quantity and intensity, fragments from the here-and-now that distract and influence her memoirs more and more.
Fragment (first page of the book):
In recent weeks I have managed to read my memoirs. I have tried it before, but it was hurting too much, mental pain caused by the realization that you have recorded your memoirs in a dream world and after manipulation by an artificial enemy, since it are creatives among us who – as a sopmer, like a lollipop for a child – are inspired to this senseless activity, to this exercise in selfishness and self-pity, to this form of autobiographical pride, an activity which Jules might have rightly called a disguised form of prostitution. It helps to keep creatives in check, in line, and admittedly, I went along like no other, yes, I firmly believed in the healing power of my memoirs for the youth of Rotterdam (and for myself). Writing memoirs became my life purpose, encouraged by our mayor with the lovely name Peter Cantacuzino, a mayor of whom I now suspect that he has been manipulated by this all dominating forms of intelligence. It is true, moving from an externally imposed compulsion to self-compulsion has reached new dimensions under the A.I. ruler: I guess that with my memoirs our enemy gets gold in his artificial hands! To think that through my outpourings I am offering him new possibilities to optimize his manipulations! Information collection is like a spider web that tightens every movement, it is high time we unravel this tangle! To sketch a complete picture, before we start with the Unmasking, here are my memories as dictated to my PR robot, just before my Awakening (all published at the express request of the major of Rotterdam).
After Julia has awakened, she finds out how the real world is currently functioning. A hyperintelligent computer entity X.yy has duplicated itself and slowly increases its power. The masterplan designed by X.yy provides a coarse segregation of homo sapiens in leaders, hard workers, creatives and relatively useless. All individuals get information on a need-to-know basis via a coloured AI filter.
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The year is 2050 and the overreaching A.I. is about to achieve total domination of the planet. If it succeeds, the end of humanity is certain. No resistance is expected since the human race has been herded into obedience and a false sense of security using high tech illusions and complacency. But the resistance is brewing – the Free Hackers are moving in the shadows, avoiding the scanners, blending with the crowd. They will cross the world, from Rotterdam to Sicily and all the way to California, in hopes of stopping the inevitable.
Interflow of Things by David Droge is a highly realistic vision of the future brought about by the constant revolutions in computing we have been witnessing in the past few decades. His A.I. starts its journey in our time but quickly spreads to control the world from the shadows. Its insatiable hunger for processing power has it manipulating governments and even change entire stratas of society. It uses high tech gadgetry to mask its debilitating effect on the planet. I enjoyed the superbly technical implementation of the technology which was always believable, especially when we remember how human totalitarian regimes have been able to accomplish the same effect without it.
Human emotions are the bedrock of its power – living in the A.I. controlled reality is comfortable. So much so that unplugging from it requires drug treatments and therapy. Julia, the first character we meet, needed extensive therapy provided by the Free Hackers before she got her emotions and clarity of mind back. And she was one of the lucky ones. Augmented reality dream is a prison of your own mind and you carry it everywhere. Why wouldn’t you? It makes everything, vision, smell, feel and touch, more beautiful! Droge is able to touch and develop every detail of the story so that you are completely immersed by the time you are just a few chapters in.
But the human emotion is something the A.I. doesn’t understand. Throughout the book we get inklings into the operation of this vast mind. Millions of calculations are being done in hopes of understanding basic human concepts and abilities, all in vain.
These passages serve the purpose of giving us the idea of the incomprehensible A.I.’s motivations. They turn out to be one of the few passages of the book that make sense. Dave Droge has translated this novel into English and the results could have been better. A layered and interesting world of the future was hard for me to comprehend. His human characters are intriguing but their motivation was obscured by poor translation.
Interflow of Things – the name of the novel is an obvious, ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” trend in computing integrated with ordinary business of living. It shows the future that we might be heading in. Droge gives us a warning that we might become willing slaves of computer controlled social constructs that we don’t really understand or care to understand. If the object of our desires is a real person or an android, will we know? Will we even care at that point? This is a fantastic science fiction story that can only get better.
Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07BTT6KRK
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The Game Changer revolves around the life of creative businessman Henk who finds himself in trouble after an art robbery takes place in the heart of Rotterdam. This book is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a romance, crime, and art history as well. Did you start writing with this in mind or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Thanks first for all the time and effort to read my book. This is a very good question and maybe therefore not easy to answer: it’s both in a mixture I would say. I started with some basic ideas and investigations, did some research on the subjects and meanwhile, on the other hand, write highly intuitive. Then I switch from these two mindsets every now and then, like in a loop that rolls forth until you get the feeling it’s almost finished. I certainly have no idea how it will end when writing and I am surprised at times about the direction the novel or characters takes… so then I change the research and idea’s to be able to go on a bit further. In the end, it takes a lot of editing, and in this process the book is also enriched a bit, blended.
The relationship between Henk and his daughter Julia is intriguing and risque. What was the driving ideas behind these characters traits and relationship?
Emancipation and seeking of one’s identity/freedom of Julia and maybe also the idea that world problems might need to be solved by women. But in this novel, it’s mainly about Henk, the businessman whom you might in some ways see as a Donald Trump kind of guy (thinking now of the open letter I read on the website of Michael Moore written to Ivanka Trump: ‘your dad is not well’, but it’s written after writing my novel). It’s about the chaos in Henk’s mind, the obsession of dominating, maybe caused by fear of women taking over power, confused with and entangled in the love for his daughter.
There is some fantastic art history in this novel. Was that intentional? Did you have to do research for this book?
Yes, I did quite some research, but in the intuitive writing process most of it is done for nothing probably, you never know for sure. The general idea I guess is indeed that art can maybe help us, it’s an investigation if so and if the answer is yes, how this can be done. What role can art play, seen from the viewpoint of the eighteen-year young Julia. She wants art to be decisive.
Why did you choose Rotterdam as the setting for this novel?
It’s close to my hometown, Vlaardingen, and plays a major role in the area where I live, historically and still from this day on, although the work in the harbour gets more automated nowadays. Furthermore, I would like to emphasize that Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-fe (‘Die Blendung’), written in 1935, was an inspiration for my novel, mainly regarding the atmosphere. As a tribute, I mentioned his name once deliberately within the novel in the middle somewhere, as well as using the term ‘stipendium’, which I came to know reading this novel and ‘Masse und Macht’. I consider this novel my personal and modern ‘die blendung’.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
The next book is all about Julia, Henk his artistic daughter. At this point in time I feel that it can still take a while before it will be finished, although there are more than 100k words written and severely edited so far. I tend to be rather ambitious regarding goals and ideas of a new book I guess, so to finish it, to pull it off is unsure: it might not work at all. Especially since the new novel will partly be science fiction, playing in 2050, I wonder if I will manage.
Sneak preview of the new novel:
The floating pavilion called The Game Changer, peacefully located between the landscaped garden and artistic attributes crammed with solar – panels, foils and conductive basins along the eaves – is virtually deserted, a rarity. As if Providence feels there is something special happening since I will, after all these years, speak privately with her. After several decades, the moment finally arrives. The ring gives an orange signal, I will have to do sport for half an hour the least, followed by a silent meditation to bring my blood pressure and pulse combination back to acceptable levels. The nerves vultures in my throat, my nasal breathing is irregular, but I consider it too late for intense exercise; I can at best apply a short-term yoga technique, click the ring signal back to inactive and start enjoying the view. In the distance I see a dot rising, it could be the amphibian taxi, one that brings her to this magnificent pavilion, two miles off the coast of Hoek van Holland situated in the North Sea, a sea largely transformed into a sea farm: one big floating habitat of many thousands of hectares. It remains beautiful to see how the east side of our integrated Maasvlakte has become a place for handling assembly of environmentally friendly products surrounded by renewables and encapsulated between tens of thousands of wind turbines, seaweed farms and solar generating systems with modern forms of salt mining. We are a leader in the world, people! Mom will not believe her eyes. In a country like the U.S.A., they are still jealous; they have looked with uttermost suspicion at our ultra-modern business, our activities that saved the planet and ourselves, mankind, from The Great Catastrophe.
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