A while back I mentioned that I wanted to write a short book called The Faceless between completing the first Seventh Circle novel and *hopefully* securing an agent/publisher for it.
Well, I started writing The Faceless tonight, and here’s a sample of my super-early, really rough and 99% most-likely-to-change introduction and first chapter. Unlike Seventh Circle, this story employs a first-person narrative structure, and opens with a blog entry from one of my main characters, known only as ‘MB.’
She’s a blogger in an alternative near-future setting who has a fascination with a group of activists called The Faceless – a group of people who can literally have all of their identifying features removed – face, hair, gentials, fingerprints, and even employ DNA and blood scrambling via nanomachines. The movement started out as a life choice, then a peaceful rights movement, and over time it devolved into a terrorist network. This book charts that story of decline, and the perceived invincibility and non-accountability that comes with being anonymous.
My other protagonist is Harper Coleman, a fresh-faced young journalist who is embarking on an internship with popular news feed Apex. When she is taksed with writing a series of features looking at Faceless culture, she discovers a side to their kind she never thought possible and starts to view them in a new light. We find early on that both ‘MB’ and Harper have met before, and their union was the cause of an event that had widespread ramifications.
I’m a gamer, and it’s clear from the book’s introduction that The Faceless will make commentary on the rise of 2014’s #GamerGate movement, the perceived power that comes with internet anonymity, and the true victims of such reckless and corrosive behaviour such as doxxing, harassment and other unfortunate by-products of the Internet.
I’ve wanted to write this book for about two years now, but the advent of #GamerGate and #Doritosgate – the latter I was a part of, have spurred me on to start writing it. Don’t expect this book any time soon – or ever for this matter – but most of the arc is cemented in my mind, and will hopefully make it onto the page in due course.
In short: It’ll be ready when it’s ready – if at all. In the meantime, I invite anyone who’s interested to check out the introduction and the first chapter, and to submit feedback on my social channels or over email if you have my address.
Thanks for your time. I hope you enjoy these first steps.
Blog post: Has it been five years already?
Published 17th March by MB
They say you never forget your first conversation with the Faceless. Growing up, I never understood why because the trend was yet to go mainstream. Like most you I had heard stories and hype on the feeds and in the old press, but to go full Anon was pretty much unheard of back then. It was like wearing eccentric fashion before it got cool – only a few dared to undergo the change, and if they did, they got eye-balled on the street. It took guts to fully commit back then, it really did.
I used to hear the same old questions being asked online like, “Who are the Faceless?” and “What do you think they want?” We didn’t know exactly, even acted like we didn’t really care, but I saw them as cool expressionists without rules or ties to RODAC. They started off as a cultural movement the trash feeds dubbed ‘Rebellion 2.0,’ and for this impressionable soul they sounded like the most inspiring people in the world. Yeah, I’m ashamed to admit it now, but yours truly was young, stupid and pissed off at her parents enough to fall in love with their way of life.
Don’t forget; the war was long over so our generation didn’t have the fear of conflict to keep us in line, and without anything to aspire to we became wayward. The old days were gone, walled up behind codes and redaction that kept us vacuum-sealed in a pristine world where nothing could hurt us. We were entitled and pampered all at once – two polar terms that simply shouldn’t have met in the middle, but regrettably, they did. In short we had it good, but were too bored to see it. What a total waste.
I first met a Faceless in the flesh five years ago today, and true enough, the experience really did leave a lasting impression. I won’t bore you with all the details but believe me when I say that I can recall everything – the conversation, our surroundings and more with total clarity. Thanks to the romanticised view I had held of the Faceless for so many years, it felt like I was meeting a celebrity, except I knew literally nothing about the person. That still feels like a weird to type, but in the end I found their presence intimidating and humbling in equal measure. Our elders were right. I’ll never forget that day until I die, even if I can’t explain why.
Perhaps I’m talking it up too much? Was the encounter as seismic as say, the murder of Harry Bryant, or the day Congresswoman Emma Fishburne was doxxed to death? Definitely not, and I think that’s simply because I had grown up by then, and that the Faceless movement had mutated into something less revolutionary than we were initially led to believe. The craze was over, yet beneath the ridicule and the indifference aimed at our anonymous neighbours, something vicious was forming. The Anon population had swelled beneath our noses, and the powder-keg had been lit.
It was just a matter of time before the explosion hit us all, and it began with a girl called Harper Coleman. Just like the Faceless, she’s someone this blogger will never forget, but I’ll have to tell you that story in another update.
“Harper,” I replied nervously as I fidgeted with the heavy recording equipment hanging off my shoulders. The man gave me a tired look from behind his desk as he tapped the rim of his datapad impatiently. He was an old, chubby guy – most likely a former reporter who had been given an easy desk job to tide him over until retirement. It was no secret that working in the media could be stressful business, and the gleaming sweat on the guy’s painfully scarlet brow suggested his ticker had narrowly survived many tight deadlines over the years. The last thing this respectable feed network needed was a death on the newsroom floor caused by their rookie intern on her first day.
“Full name. Please,” he sighed as he tugged his tight shirt collar to relieve the tension in his neck.
“Oh, uh, Harper Coleman, freelance. I’m here for temp duty with Jacob Chen. He said to sign in here.”
The desk jockey ran a damp palm through his greying flop of hair in what could only be described as a gesture of annoyance before tapping his pad lazily to sign me in. I took a moment to look around the office and enjoyed what I saw. Reporters were hurrying back and forth between pods and boardrooms – presumably to meet whatever embargoes were looming over their heads, while others tapped furiously at their data screens to turn in copy for the feeds before it was too late. They were of varying ages, but all seemed to be thriving off the rush that only a breaking news story, or the pursuit of a scoop could provide.
It was the same rush that brought me to Apex, one of the biggest media feeds in America. The network had offered me an internship as part of a graduate scheme, but securing the place was no small feat. I had to turn in a series of hard-hitting investigative features focused on current cultural events, and I loved every moment of the assignment – from tracking down interviewees and grilling them over the topics of the day, to fact-finding and putting all of my research down on the page. I almost screamed bloody murder down the phone when Apex’s editor Jacob told me I had the job.
“Jake just DM’d to say he’d meet you over by the boardroom C in five minutes,” the sweat-sponge moaned, never once lifting his dripping head away from his pad. “There’s fresh coffee over there if you want any, but trust me, you’ll be need it before lunch.”
“Thanks,” I chirped, as I almost skipped past the front desk and into the pulsing media heart of Apex, which pounded fiercely with life. While I walked towards the boardroom I refused to let myself be phased by the desk-dweller’s apathy. I had arrived to score headlines and make a name for myself – to become a shining editorial beacon in a murky sea of worn media floatsam like the old paper press, and as Hell was my witness I was going to make a damn fine career out of it.