Technology is both an amazing and terrifying aspect of human development. For the most part, it enhances our lives, bringing a high level of comfort and security to society. But there are times when we can’t stop but think about whether technology is truly beneficial or a curse.
That anxiety of technology going wrong or being used for evil is what technothrillers bank on to create crisp and realistic stories for you to ponder.
Best Technothriller Books
Technothrillers are full of conspiracies, espionage, and hard-hitting heroism that make for heart-racing scenes that fuel our imagination. If you’re a fan of such things, I’ve assembled a list of the best technothriller books you can enjoy!
1. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Jason Dessen wakes up and finds himself in a familiar yet extremely strange world. Here, he is an unparalleled genius, his wife isn’t his wife, and their son never existed. Is this a dream? And if not, how can he go back to the world he knows?
2. The Circle by Dave Eggers
Mae believes it a dream when she lands a job at The Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company. It is everything she wants it to be, from the first-rate facilities to the excellent company culture.
But as the Circle’s influence grows, privacy slowly becomes a thing of the past. With the threat of a totalitarian society growing more certain, Mae has to choose whether to continue the Circle’s purpose or deny it.
3. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Eleven-year-old Rose falls into a hole and discovers a giant metal hand. No one knows how it came to be buried, or what the symbols on the walls around it mean.
Seventeen years later, Rose is now a physicist leading a top-secret team dedicated to investigating the hand. There’s no progress so far, but they just know that they’re on the verge of solving history’s most important discovery.
4. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
The NSA’s supercomputer, TRANSLTR encounters a revolutionary code that it cannot break. The code takes the NSA’s database hostage, threatening to make all the agency’s secrets known to everyone.
Susan Fletcher, cryptographer and mathematician, is brought in to help crack the code. But what she finds is a mountain of secrecy and lies inside the agency she believed in.
5. Bandwidth by Eliot Peper
Dag Calhoun is a lobbyist representing some of the world’s most powerful executives. Like everyone else, he relies on his digital feed to understand the various happenings in the world and how they affect his job.
A close brush with death makes him take a closer look at the information he sees. His feed is not as private as he thought and he discovers a conspiracy that will either benefit the planet or doom it.
6. Nexus by Ramez Naam
In the near future, an emerging drug that can link people’s minds becomes the focus of the elite and the authorities. Everyone wants it — to destroy, to use, or to improve.
Kade, a young scientist caught trying to improve the drug, is forced into an espionage mission — a mission that could decide humanity’s evolution.
7. The Speed of Sound by Eric Bernt
All Eddie Parks wants is to hear his mother’s voice again. It’s why he made the “echo box,” a piece of technology that can re-create never-recorded sounds.
But Harmony House, the organization he belongs to, and its faceless backers see it as the ultimate intelligence asset. Eddie must find sanctuary before someone takes the box — and his life.
8. Game Changer by Douglas E. Richards
Secret Service agent Kevin Quinn is convinced the president needs to die and is determined to make it happen. Then he suddenly becomes the most wanted man in America.
Soon he discovers what everyone wants: a piece of technology that can let anyone learn years of knowledge within just a few hours. Now he must risk everything to protect it and the woman who made it possible.
9. New York Deep by Andrew J. Morgan
In the bowels of New York City, engineer Josh Reed leads his team in expanding the city’s railway network. Work stops when their massive drill encounters an unknown, crystalline material and an empty room beyond.
When his coworkers start disappearing, Josh turns to the one man he knows he can trust. Together, they unravel the room’s mystery and learn why the authorities are so keen to keep it a secret.
10. People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
To the majority of the internet, Emmy Jackson is @the_mamabare, popular for telling how modern parenthood really is. But one of her fans knows the truth and that she doesn’t deserve everything she has.
As fame changes her as a person, it cracks the foundations of her family, leaving them vulnerable to an outside threat they’ve no idea about.
What Is a Technothriller?
The technothriller (or techno-thriller) is a hybrid genre formed from elements taken from other genres, including action-adventure, spy fiction, and science fiction.
Technothrillers are detail-oriented; they often include a huge amount of technical details usually only found in hard science fiction. They often explore the inner workings of technology and other disciplines in need of specialist knowledge.
Most technothrillers are set in the present day or the near future, offering you a realistic view of the world. This, combined with an adventurous protagonist, creates a story that is believable but also extraordinary.
The Rise of Technothrillers
The technothriller was invented as a response to the military and political climate of the Cold War era. Best-selling author Tom Clancy is largely accepted as the inventor of the genre, since he began to write about political and espionage stories that became the precursor to the modern technothriller.
Today, the genre remains popular because it presents the dilemma of technology and makes us wonder if it’s a benefit, or detriment to humanity. We live in an era where technology is used to level up human life: medicine and food are easier to produce; flying cars and commercial space travel are on the horizon; and scientists are working to produce clean energy.
But it’s also easy to worry about the darker side of technology. Technology users increasingly agonize over mass surveillance, information leaks, and deep fake videos and audio clips.
Technothrillers, whatever storyline or genre-blending they utilize, are always cautionary tales about the exploitation of technology. Read them for the thrills, but also consider their implications and how they might affect your life.
Cole is a blog writer and aspiring novelist. He has a degree in Communications and is an advocate of media and information literacy and responsible media practices. Aside from his interest in technology, crafts, and food, he’s also your typical science fiction and fantasy junkie, spending most of his free time reading through an ever-growing to-be-read list. It’s either that or procrastinating over actually writing his book. Wish him luck!