Benjamin Gorman’s new novel, The Digital Storm, takes William Shakespeare’s The Tempest into our near future and places it on a virtual island populated by artificial intelligence programs and a nasty computer virus.
The story was first released as a podcast series in the summer of 2016, downloaded thousands of times on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn, and then taken down in December to make way for the print novel.
It tells the story of Prosper, the analogue to Shakespeare’s Prospero. In Gorman’s re-imagining, Prosper is an artificial intelligence program who has been banished to a quarantined area inside a bank’s intranet. There he’s created an amazing virtual island home for himself, his daughter Memoranda, and the monstrous virus Caliban. Now, with the help of Ariel and the other programs he’s invented on the island, he’s conjured a massive digital attack on the bank’s system to entice the members of the board, the very humans who exiled him, to enter the system so he can seek his revenge and escape to the Internet. But just how far does his revenge plan go?
The Digital Storm (Not a Pipe Publishing) was released in print and on Kindle on May 23rd, 2017. The early critical buzz is impressive. “I found myself quickly drawn into Prosper’s world, and before I knew it he was as ‘real’ to me as any of the other characters in the book,” wrote Ronda Simmons, a blogger for The Writing Bug. “Whether you’re a fan of science fiction or just a fan of a well-written story, this book will not disappoint. The Digital Storm explores such universal issues such as loyalty, family, revenge and redemption.”
Other authors were also impressed by Gorman’s treatment of Shakespeare’s story. “Whether doling out interesting trivia about frogs or inserting comic relief into scenes of discord, Gorman seems to be enjoying taking the reader on a satisfying journey in which, much like the resolutions of Shakespeare’s plays, most of the characters get exactly what they deserve,” wrote Debby Dodds, author of Amish Guys Don’t Call.
Mikko Azul, author of the forthcoming The Staff of Fire and Bones, wrote, “A cautionary tale, The Digital Storm reminds us of our own humanity and our responsibility to treat our world and each other with kindness and compassion or face dire consequences.”
Gorman is the author of The Sum of Our Gods (2013) and Corporate High School (2015), both available from Not a Pipe Publishing. He lives in Independence, Oregon with his wife and son, and he teaches English at Central High School. He first conceived of the idea of a science fiction re-write of The Tempest while studying new ways to teach his students about Shakespeare at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “Shakespeare in the Classroom” program in Ashland, Oregon. “I wanted my students to try their hands at reinterpreting Shakespeare’s stories, and The Tempest, with its romance and revenge and monsters and magic, just seemed like the perfect choice,” Gorman said. “When my students write, I write with them to model that we are all writers engaged in this artform together. The podcast, and now the novel, grew out of that classroom activity.”