2048 by Emre Sayer bills itself as a futuristic novel that connects business, love, culture, technology and society into one cohesive whole. Yet it falls flat in numerous ways.
A critique of this novel must start with the translation. It’s bad, really bad. Not just in the sense that important nuances and subtext have been lost in the process, but that there are significant errors in the text. These are no small slip-ups either, there are tense, word choice preposition and punctuation mistakes that make the book hard to read or inadvertently hilarious depending on one’s mood.
Two quotations if I may:
“I stroke up a conversation about what’s latest in educational system; after all, she was an academic.”
“Employees who spoke Hindu…”
There seems to have been a real lack of copy editing, at least my edition. There are also some odd editorial choices like putting footnotes that explain acronyms such as A.I and terms like “luddite” and “post-capitalist” which just come across as unnecessarily pedantic.
Looking beyond the significant language issues is difficult as it thwarts the reader’s immersion. Still, with such poorly translated books, there is always a chance that the text itself is worth reading and it’s just suffering from a poor translation and editing. I doubt that is the case for 2048.
With such an inept translation, much has been lost, but one can still see the bones of the original story.
The narrative is set in the near future, in the year 2048 to be precise, and narrates the story of Erol, a tech entrepreneur, and his romance with Beste, a technophobe. The author dedicates much of the book to Erol’s obsession with Beste, stalking her and mansplaining the advantages of the techno-utopia he has contributed in ushering in, which Beste gets ‘irrationally’ angry about.
Whilst describing Erol’s world, Emre Sayer uses a great deal of detail. Everything from the changes to railways, A.I, designer babies and drones. This is only the part of the book that is convincing. 2048 does feature some interesting ideas. Some of the technology that the writer portrays as broadly utopian already is not unlike what already prevails in authoritarian surveillance states like China.
While this point can be debated, the book’s structure isn’t. In successful futuristic sci-fi, such as William Gibson’s The Peripheral, speculative elements remain in the background. Gibson’s books feature near-future technologies and are vital to the plot. As the landscape unfurls before the reader, technology and societal changes that are not central to the plot are slipped in to add color and interest in this imagined universe. But in 2048, this universe is depicted in too many details, often with no relevance to and to the detriment of the plot. The narrative is broken up by long chunks of explanatory text that kills any pacing that the romantic storyline might be building up.
The novel doesn’t officially end. Instead, the writer encourages readers to crowd source their own endings, using a QR code at the back of the book. My phone is a Nokia 1200, which doesn’t have a camera so I didn’t bother. However, I did notice a spelling mistake in the explanation.