Author Ed O'Loughlin“We’re all living in a dystopian tech thriller, whether we like it or not.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Irish-Canadian author Ed O’Loughlin told Oliver Callan – sitting in for Ryan Tubridy – that his head fears we’re doomed, but his heart is optimistic. Let’s hope it’s his heart that wins out there. Ed was in studio with Oliver to talk about his new novel, This Eden, a very modern cyber-thriller that Oliver says reads like classic Bourne. The book tells how the protagonist, Michael, a bad software engineer, stumbles into a plot to save the world. It’s roster of characters features a sinister tech billionaire, an enigmatic war gamer and a reluctant Irish spy. The story takes Michael from Vancouver to Dublin, via California, the forests of Uganda, Jerusalem and Paris. And Ed told Oliver what inspired him to write the novel: 

“I think we’re all seeing now the world we live in. We were being promised 20 years ago how the internet would change the world for the better, and, while we’re all addicted to it, and it is very useful, it does have a very dark side.” 

The cyber-warfare element of the book has immediate relevance for Ireland, given what we’ve been through with the recent ransomware hack of the HSE’s IT systems and Ed believes that the sort of wars that will be fought in the future will be wars of ones and zeroes, rather than guns and soldiers. Indeed, he says, it’s already begun: 

“The warfare which is under way now is not about dropping bombs on railway sidings and communications anymore, it’s about dropping viruses and hacking and ransomware attacks.” 

Ed spent a total of almost 15 years as a foreign correspondent in Africa and the Middle East, which gives him a good geographical grounding when he’s sending his hapless hero to far-off places. Can writing a novel can get your message across better than journalism? Oliver wanted to know.  

“This is the only pure thriller I’ve written and I may not write another one, but I just thought for this message and what I wanted to say – often I start off with a story and don’t know why I’m writing it, in this case, I knew exactly why I was writing it and I built the story around that purpose.” 

This Eden could only really be a thriller, Ed continued, because “this is the world we live in”. And, Ed sums up both the scope of the novel and life in 2021, when he says: 

“We’re all living in a dystopian tech thriller, whether we like it or not.” 

You can hear Oliver’s full conversation with Ed O’Loughlin by going here

This Eden by Ed O’Loughlin is published by Riverrun. 

Niall Ó Sioradáin 

© The Listener 2021

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