H.C.H. Ritz

Why I Wrote Absence of Mind

The symbol for Hyper-Aggression Disorder used by police in the novel

The concept for Absence of Mind came out of wishful thinking. I wished that I had my smartphone implanted directly in my brain for easier use. Imagine all the functionality of your smartphone, but with the screen being a heads-up display and all of the commands activated by eye movement or thought. And so the primary technology interface in the world of the novel is a brain implant called a Navi (Native Audio-Visual Interface).

The Navi is a pretty useful device. In addition to being a communications and reading interface, it’s always on, always watching your behavior and providing you with relevant, timely information. If you want to diet, your Navi counts your calories for you and provides increasingly strenuous warnings as you approach your daily limits. If you want to start jogging, your Navi pleads with you, offers you motivational readings, reminds you of rewards you’ve established for yourself—whatever it takes—to convince you to get up and jog every morning. It’s like having a new, constant, continually supportive companion in life.

There are substantial implications for mental health care as well, because your new companion can detect through your behavior when you need cognitive therapy and provide it immediately—any time and any place.

The more I wrote about the Navis, the more I wanted one myself.  And then I started thinking about what could go wrong.

Actually, part of what’s wrong with Navis in the novel is the same thing that’s already wrong with our use of technology today. Technology is incredibly addictive, and it’s an addiction that supplants physiological human interaction like touch, proximity and eye contact. I wrote this book in part to explore these issues and how a society communicating via Navis might look. It isn’t completely dystopian, but… you’ll have to read it and see.

There was one other thing I wanted out of this book: I wanted an action story that was driven by two female characters. If you would enjoy that as well, check it out!

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