It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—the world’s most powerful privately held company, headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure, Arrival... Delight!
Joel Byram is an everyday 22nd century guy. He spends his days training artificial-intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave—an extremely obscure genre in his time, and kinda sorta trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. He’s is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.
Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.
With the synopsis out the way, here’s a bit on how The Punch Escrow came to be:
The story began as a water cooler discussion I had with the CEO of a company I worked for a few years ago. It started along the lines of the usual "mind blown" zone one enters when they realize that every time Scotty teleported Captain Kirk he was actually killing him in one place and replicating him somewhere else. This concept has been explored almost ad nauseum on Youtube and clickbait sites. You might even say it’s jumped the shark since even Conan had Professor Brian Cox delve into it on his show.
While there are several good books and movies that address the existential problems teleportation would introduce should it ever become a viable transportation mechanism, none have adequately presented a hard science solution to that problem. Since I build products for a living, I decided to solve the problem using a strategy known as Wardley Mapping. The "product" came in the form of The Punch Escrow.
I’ve done my best to get the science right. I’ve spent years on researching teleportation. Not just any teleportation, human teleportation. What I discovered scared the crap out of me. Nonetheless, I believe it’s an inevitability. A culmination of requisite advances in physics, biology, religion, ethics, and politics.
Of course, solving the human teleportation problem was only half the fun. Now I had to create a compelling narrative to make it interesting to the kind of people who don’t read textbooks for fun, otherwise the book would be just a giant infodump. That’s where Joel Byram comes in.
Have you ever been on the New York Subway or the London Underground when the power went out? It’s a very sobering, humbling moment. For Joel, not only has the technology he’s come to rely on stopped working, but because in the future everyday life is umbilically tethered to the technology that underpins it, Joel faces an identity crisis.
If you like hard science fiction and also the occasional fart joke then this book is for you. It gets deep into quantum physics and nanotechnology, but you’ll also find yourself entrenched in a society which largely relies on mosquitoes that inhale carbon fumes, exhale air, and pee water in order to survive. The cool thing is that every single invention in the book is based on feasible hard science. Granted, it’s the sort of hard science that we’re only starting to meddle with now in our time.
Sure, in Joel’s world there have been a couple of big wars, climate disasters, and such. Big spoiler: People can still be jerks in the future. But the world Joel lives in could hardly be described as dystopian, or at least no more than our world might be described as dystopian by Sir Thomas More in the 16th century.
You will find nods to authors like Hugh Howey, Ernest Cline, Andy Weir, Douglas Adams, Robert Kroese, Scott Meyer, Terry Pratchett, and Max Barry.
You are invited.