State Tectonics

The future of democracy must evolve or die.

The last time Information held an election, a global network outage, two counts of sabotage by major world governments, and a devastating earthquake almost shook micro-democracy apart. Five years later, it’s time to vote again, and the system that has ensured global peace for 25 years is more vulnerable than ever.

Unknown enemies are attacking Information’s network infrastructure. Spies, former superpowers, and revolutionaries sharpen their knives in the shadows. And Information’s best agents question whether the data monopoly they’ve served all their lives is worth saving, or whether it’s time to burn the world down and start anew.

Malka Older concludes her cyberpunk political thriller series The Centenal Cycle with State Tectonics—available September 11th from Tor.com Publishing.

 

 

Chapter 1

The Dhaka street swarms with people, objects, and all of the existing data about all of these people and ...

Malka Older’s State Tectonics and the Internet’s Potential for Good

If you follow me and read my books, hopefully you already know that I donate ten percent of my earnings from each of my novels to an organization that works in areas related to the book’s themes.

Infomocracy is about, among other things, the importance of engaging in governance and holding both leaders and civil servants accountable. I donate some of what I earn from that book to the Accountability Lab, an organization that uses innovative and exciting approaches to build accountability at the grassroots level around the world. (Read more here.)

In Null States I wrote about political entities left out of the global political system, and so from that book’s earnings I donate to the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, which supports stateless people and works to end statelessness. (More on that here.)

I donate for a couple of reasons. In part, ...

On Infomocracy and Voting on Where You Want to Belong

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As part of our Cyber Week eBook Sale (Tuesday, November 28 to Sunday, December 3), Malka Older’s political cyberpunk thriller Infomocracy is only $2.99 at your favorite ebook retailer!

I have lived in, worked in, and visited a lot of countries with on-going separatist movements. (That includes the United States and, in fact, almost any country you might be reading this from.) Some are more noticeable than others. When I lived in Sri Lanka, the LTTE had carved out a band of territory off-limits to the Sri Lankan government, complete with its own (limited) public services, radio stations, and time zone (this territory was later violently overrun and no longer exists). When I traveled in Spain, Spaniards were boycotting cava because of Catalonian secession movements, and there were warnings about attacks by ETA, the armed Basque separatist organization. When I worked in Timor-Leste, one of the newest ...

Are We Heading Towards an Infomocracy?

Micro democracy infomocracy I have lived in, worked in, and visited a lot of countries with on-going separatist movements. (That includes the United States and, in fact, almost any country you might be reading this from). Some are more noticeable than others. When I lived in Sri Lanka, the LTTE had carved out a band of territory off-limits to the Sri Lankan government, complete with its own (limited) public services, radio stations, and time zone (this territory was later violently overrun and no longer exists). When I traveled in Spain, Spaniards were boycotting cava because of Catalonian secession movements, and there were warnings about attacks by ETA, the armed Basque separatist organization. When I worked in Timor-Leste, one of the newest countries in the world was still figuring out things like economy and orthography after centuries of colonialism. A few hundred kilometers to the north, in Maluku, people were still deciding whether ...
Infomocracy Malka Older

Optimism and Access: The Line Between Cyberpunk and Post-Cyberpunk

Infomocracy_full Calling Infomocracy a post-cyberpunk novel wasn’t my idea. I’m happy with the “cyberpunk” part. Infomocracy owes a huge debt to cyberpunk novels (not the least being compared to Snowcrash on its front-cover blurb). When I started writing it I was thinking very consciously about the cyberpunk aesthetic: smooth, capable characters who can pull off some fairly glamorous intrigue but then turn around and show you their gritty, imperfect underbelly as well; a combination of virtual and physical action; a tone with an element of darkness but also a tendency to wink at self-awareness. Also katanas. (In retrospect I don’t really understand how katanas fit into cyberpunk, but they do seem common there, and since I spent two years studying iaido in Japan, I was quite happy to use them.) The characters and the story quickly took over the writing process and went their own way, but I’m grateful for ...
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Engaging in the Democratic Process with Infomocracy

Infomocracy_full Infomocracy is based in the late 21st century, in a future when democracy has evolved into micro-democracy and governments compete for dominance across tens of thousands of tiny jurisdictions in a global election. Any centenal of one hundred thousand citizens can vote for any government it wants, and governments knit their scattered constituents together with virtual technology and common laws. It’s an alluring idea. Each community can pick the government it wants. No need for pitched battles between groups with completely different interests in countries that span time zones, climates, and vastly different histories. It’s a vision of customized democracy that aims to increase voter engagement and information that tries to reduce the problem of oppression by majority, if not completely remove it. Nonetheless, the characters who populate Infomocracy find that this system is far from perfect. Voters still fall for style over substance, propelling all-celebrity political parties into ...
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Living in an Infomocracy

Print I love the drama of elections. I love the constant polls and predictions, measuring the desperate efforts to slide ahead by even a few points. Then there’s the thrill of tracing the cause and effect between every well-documented micro-event and the tiny ticks up and down in the numbers. Even the way we create those numbers affects those numbers. m_older01 Even the way we try to find out about the numbers affects the numbers. m_older02 Then there are the subtleties and not-so-subtleties of designing, testing, and projecting images. The strategies and the tactics, the gesturing, the jostling, the amplified personalities that do their Punch and Judy show for us under the bright lights of debate stages and in carefully curated interviews. Every detail becomes important. m_older03 Everything is about the projection of information, and controlling information is an attempt to control elections. m_older04 Data powers the world. m_older05 And, like all precious resources, information is ...
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Infomocracy: Chapter 5

Infomocracy cover

< p class="frontmatter">It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy is available June 7th from Tor.com Publishing. Read chapter five below, or head back ...

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Infomocracy: Chapter 4

Infomocracy cover

< p class="frontmatter">It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy is available June 7th from Tor.com Publishing. Read chapter four below, or head back ...

Heritage(1)

Infomocracy: Chapter 3

Infomocracy cover

< p class="frontmatter">It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy is available June 7th from Tor.com Publishing. Read chapter three below, or head back ...

InformVote(1)

Infomocracy: Chapter 2

Infomocracy cover

< p class="frontmatter">It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy is available June 7th from Tor.com Publishing. Read chapter two below, or head back ...

Infomocracy: Chapter 1

Infomocracy cover

< p class="frontmatter">It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global microdemocracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy is available June 7th from Tor.com Publishing. Read chapter one below, and come back ...

Tear Tracks

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Flur traveled across the stars to make first contact with the Cyclopes, hoping to forge a peace treaty between humanity and the first sentient aliens they’ve discovered. She’s undergone careful training and study to prepare for this moment. But what if her approach is too human?

 

Nobody expected them to look human. If anyone still harbored that kind of anthropocentric bias, they kept it bottled up with their other irrational fantasies (or nightmares) of successful contact. The biophysicists had theorized alternative forms that could support higher intelligence: spiraling cephalopods, liquid consciousness, evenly-distributed sentience. The Mission Director, who was known for being broad-minded, even invited some science fiction writers to work with the scientists in imagining what intelligent alien life might look like. The collaboration didn’t generate many usable ideas for the Mission (although it did lead to half a dozen best sellers and a couple of ugly lawsuits). And ...