Set in the not-too-distant future, John Marrs’ latest thriller, The Passengers, raises a number of questions about where society might be headed in a world of driverless cars and smart technology—and though it’s not scheduled to come out until August, Book Spy followers are getting an early sneak peek at the cover.
“Driverless cars are coming. Whether we like it or not, there are en route and arriving soon,” said Marrs in exclusive comments to The Real Book Spy. “Within the next decade, we will be sitting in the front seats of our vehicles with a flat dashboard containing no steering wheel, and below us, no brakes. We will be in the hands of an operating system that we cannot touch and that we cannot see. It will be making life or death decisions for us. But what if that artificial intelligence could be compromised? What if it is hacked and something – or someone – other than the OS is controlling our destiny?”
“That’s the premise of my book The Passengers. One morning, eight people find themselves locked inside their driverless cars and are warned that they have just two and a half hours left before their cars are set to collide at speed. All but one will die. And who that lucky survivor is will be decided by a specially selected jury—and the whole of social media worldwide.”
“The idea for The Passengers came to me during a discussion with my editor about technology and how at some point in our lifetimes, this mode of transport will be the norm,” explained Marrs. “Buses, trains, taxis, cars, motorbikes… you name it and it will be driving us. The very thought of it fascinated me, and prompted many questions, such who will decide who lives and who dies in the advent of a potentially fatal accident? How will my car, which has no moral compass or human empathy, even make that decision? And if everything is hackable, then couldn’t my car also be compromised?
“The Passengers in my story are made up of eight strangers from various backgrounds and at different points in their lives. An aging film star, a pregnant young teacher, a suicidal man, a husband-and-wife, an immigrant, a war veteran and an asylum seeker.
“It is their responsibility to sell themselves to the jury and social media and make us want to take their side. But it soon becomes apparent most of these Passengers haven’t been picked randomly. They are all hiding secrets that, once revealed, could be the difference between life and death for each of them.
Tackling issues including social media gang mentality, race, sexism, ethnic cleansing along with the rapid advancement of technology and Government corruption, The Passengers has been described by early readers as Speed meets Hunger Games and The Running Man, comparisons I’m more than delighted to accept. But judge for yourself. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.”
The Passengers will ride into bookstores on August 27th, and is currently available for pre-order here. In the meantime, make sure you’re following John Marrs on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.