I am absolutely delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Broadcast by Liam Brown. It’s not a book I might have read had I not been asked to and I would have missed out on a fantastic read. I have a short extract to share from Broadcast along with my review today.
Broadcast was published by Legend Press on 15th September 2017 and is available for purchase here.
The idea behind MindCast is simple. We insert a small chip into your skull and then every thought, every feeling, every memory is streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. Trust me – within a few months you’ll be the most talked about person on the planet.
When David Callow is offered the lead role in a revolutionary new online show, he snatches at the opportunity.
Rapidly becoming a viral sensation, David is propelled to stratospheric levels of celebrity. However, he soon realises the downside of sharing every secret with the world.
A prisoner to both his fame and his own thoughts, David seeks to have the chip removed, only to discover the chilling secret lurking at the heart of MindCast, and the terrifying ambition the show’s creator has for him.
An Extract from Broadcast
David shakes his head. ‘But I don’t understand? If you’re not going to launch it then why did you invite me here this morning?’
Xan’s smile returns. He places the guitar carefully down beside the amp and then wraps an arm around David’s shoulder. He leans in, so close that David can smell the stale perspiration seeping from his t-shirt, the sour coffee on his breath.
‘Oh, I’ve got something more exciting to show you than this, David. Something much, much more exciting. And believe me, this thing really will rock your world.’
‘Explain to me what it is that you do, David. What is your job?’
David and Sarah are slumped on oversized beanbags in a tiny office that lies behind the guitar room. Like the other breakout areas, the room is bright and sparsely furnished, though here all the surfaces – ceiling, walls, floor – are mirrored, rather than transparent or frosted. The effect is mesmerising. While Xan speaks, David finds himself constantly distracted by his own reflection, both disturbed and excited to see himself from so many new angles. Every time he crosses his legs or readjusts his glasses or runs his fingers through his hair, an endless army of clones instantly mimic him. Everywhere he looks he’s there. There’s no escaping himself.
‘Um… I make videos?’
Beside David, Sarah is doing her best to retain an air of professionalism, despite lying almost horizontal.
‘I think what David is trying to say is that he is one of the top thirty independent content creators currently working online today. As a filmmaker, vlogger, and soon-to-be author, his good looks, fashion-sense and relatable, everyman charm have brought him a huge audience, particularly amongst the traditionally difficult to reach 14-17 demographic. Over the last three years alone he has amassed a loyal following of hundreds of thousands of regular viewers, not to mention over…’
Around the room, a billion Xans hold up their hands in unison.
‘Thank you, Sarah. I’m aware of the figures. Allow me to rephrase. What I’m trying to get at isn’t so much what you do, but what the purpose is. What is the point of you, David?’ Sarah opens her mouth to answer, then closes it again, stumped. She turns to David, who scratches at his stubble.
‘I guess the point… Well… People watch my videos because they care about what I think about… stuff.’
Xan beams. ‘Bingo! I mean, that’s it in a nutshell, right? You’re a commentator. A critic. You live your life and then you talk about it. Simple as that. And people go crazy for it. They know you. They like you. They value your opinion. Hell, most of them probably consider you more as a friend than an entertainer.’
The assembled Sarahs breathe a sigh of relief. ‘Absolutely, absolutely. In fact a recent poll indicated…’
‘Of course they do, dude,’ Xan continues, cutting her off.
‘It’s just so intimate, isn’t it? No middleman. No artifice. Just you and a camera. An open portal into your life. The ultimate reality show. I mean, forget TV. Video blogging is the real successor to Gutenberg’s press. You don’t need industry connections or years of drama school. Literally anyone can do it. Anyone can be a star. It’s almost a shame it’ll all be over in a couple of years.’
David frowns. ‘Over?’
‘Sure. Utterly finished. Within a couple of years, video blogging will be as dead as DVDs. Or the novel. Sure there might be a few enthusiasts who cling on for a while. Retro snobs. Hipsters. The same people who insist on buying vinyl rather than streaming music like everyone else. But in any meaningful way, video blogging is heading for extinction. There’s just no future in it.’
In every surface, Sarah and David exchange confused glances.
‘I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Sarah says, attempting to rearrange herself on the beanbag.
‘David is currently one of the most popular personalities on the Internet. Okay, so there may have been some natural settling of figures over the last six months, but he still drives hundreds of thousands of regular viewers to his channel every week. He has fans on every continent. And it’s not just him. I have seven other clients, all of whom are currently drawing a similar sized audience. Online video has never been more popular. Our projections show us making up seventy per cent of the total media market share by the end of the decade alone. I just don’t know how you can stand there and declare the bubble’s about to burst?’
Xan towers above them, smiling. All around them his reflection trails off into infinity. An army. A lynch mob.
‘Because,’ he says, grinning. ‘We’re going to kill it. Together.’
My Review of Broadcast
Vlogger David Callow cherished fame but he might rue the day he got involved with MindCast.
Wow! What a book. Stunning stuff! I must say something straight away about the overall quality of Liam Brown’s writing. He doesn’t waste a word. He knows exactly what sentence length, syntax and vocabulary to use to ensnare a reader so that they can’t stop reading. Breaks in the text are so perfectly placed and presented with mini cliffhangers and often terrifying brevity so that with a single word Liam Brown conveys absolutely everything he needs his reader to understand. I loved the fact that these breaks were also represented by an image of that irritating cog we all get as our computers buffer incoming information. Sheer genius. So too is the overall structure. I wasn’t initially sure why the narrative moved from the third to first person voice but when I understood I could only admire the technique completely.
I read much of the book with my pulse rate elevated because what Liam Brown presents is an only too realistic, horrifying, view of what we could become if we allow technology to take over our lives much further. I genuinely think this is one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read because it is so plausible. We’re a blink away from the events in Broadcast as we spiral further into the online celebrity culture of the C21st.
The plot races along so that Dave’s life becomes a nightmare spectacle not just for those in the book but for the reader too.
Not only is Broadcast exceptionally well written and utterly entertaining and absorbing, it is a book that strikes fear into the heart and soul of anyone who has ever posted anything online. It has actually made me think carefully about continuing to blog and post to social media or instead just quietly disappearing from this online world.
I think Liam Brown’s Broadcast is utterly phenomenal and everyone should read it.
About Liam Brown
Liam Brown is a writer, filmmaker and former-life model. His debut novel Real Monsters was published in 2015 and long-listed for the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and two children.
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