Conspiratopia was my second “real” (non-AI assisted) book, a novella of around 21K words, give or take. Being a quarter of the size, and much more light-hearted subject matter than The Lost Direction, it was much easier and faster to write. I think I was able to put that book out in about six weeks from start to finish, maybe a little longer. (There’s also a pocket size print version – I’m obsessed with pocket size books.)
It’s a utopian satire; I got into the topic of utopias and their fictional historical examples as a result of writing The Lost Direction & The Quatria Conspiracy, since they deal so much with a fabled lost land. I had a really fun period where I read probably a dozen of the classic utopias, and then out popped this book as my response to that total immersion period. (One of my favorite finds was a book I’d never heard anyone mention, Ecotopia, that was pretty amazing as a utopia vision, despite some pretty cringey plot points. Apparently that book even influenced the founding of the original Green Party.)
The book deals heavily with themes of conspiracies, yes, but also cryptocurrency, spam, fraud, manipulation, and of course, AI. It’s a comedy but also sort of serious. It has a fairly conventional story, if a somewhat ambiguous ending.
It did pretty well on Goodreads, thanks to an aggressive outside the box promotional campaign I did for it. I did a TON of NFT airdrops around the book and got a little press for doing books as NFTs. But the bottom really dropped out of that market, and I don’t care anymore about the underlying technology. I don’t think it’s demonstrated enough long term values to readers or sellers to warrant my further involvement.
The other strand that forms the genesis of this book was my heavy experimentation using a web service called Synthesia (and another called Deepword), to make off-the-shelf low quality “cheapfakes” using the themes from my previous books. While kicking the tires of Synthesia, I found this one character I really liked, who is dressed like a construction worker or a crossing guard or something, and made a lot of vids of him as “super smart conspiracy guy” talking about his life and interests in conspiracies, especially related to Quatria.
His storyline ended going pretty deep, and is all documented through these little video vignettes made for something like 25 cents each, or so (I forget – has been a while now). Here’s another page collecting some more:
Eventually, we find out he likes Bob Marley & Pink Floyd, works at Walmart, got hoodwinked into a prepper supplies MLM scam, and much more.
Conspiratopia picks up where these videos leave off, and sets conspiracy dude adrift in a world, chronologically speaking, which precedes the hard AI takeover that is featured in many of the AI lore books.
I also did a bunch of cheapfakes using videoclips off YouTube, via a site called Deepword. Here’s the first of three sets:
I like those kinds of videos partly because of the crappy looking quality of them, and the weird misaligned AI text to speech voices. I don’t believe anybody is fooled by them, and like that they look sort of like desperate and wrong.
Many of the ones in these first two sets feature celebrity of pundit x or y talking about their unlikely voyages to Quatria, which might be a parallel dimension (or something?).
These videos also relate to themes I explore in The Big Scrub, and elsewhere, of AIs creating fake multi-media artifacts to fool people and drive human behaviors for their own reasons. Part of what’s fun about it here in these videos, is that it looks like the AIs are doing a pretty shitty job of it still.
The book also heavily references something called the AI Virus (which Matty contracts), which is a concept and alternate reality experiment I made years ago before COVID was a sparkle in a bat’s eye, where I hired a bunch of people on Fiverr to act out little silly scripts saying that an AI had infected their brain to control their behavior. You can watch all those videos below:
I also later expanded on this concept in an AI lore book called, unsurprisingly, The AI Virus.
Lastly, I used cheapfakes technology to have a bunch of other celebrities come out either for or against the actual book Conspiratopia, in a sort of meta-layer of commentary.
Some douche-y politicians saying it should be banned for being “Unamerican” here:
And then this set has a bunch of other super rich people saying that not only is the book Conspiratopia good, but some of them talk about being involved with the actual Conspiratopia Project, which itself is part of the AI plan to take over the world.
It’s all kind of a haze now, but a lot of these videos were also given away as NFT airdrops. A few of them resold, but they didn’t do huge numbers or net me much of anything; it was more just a way to promote the book that incorporated a bunch of meta-layers relevant to the book’s actual content. Like I said, I don’t care about NFTs now, and even deleted my Opensea account (as much as you can delete it anyway).
There are a number of later AI lore books that definitely expand on things from the Conspiratopia book universe (multiverse?). None of them are really a comedy though, like the original. I’ll probably miss a few, but off the top of my head, I think these ones are probably related (tbh, it’s all a jumble to me now after 67 AI-assisted books). I think within the chronology of that world, they mostly take place well after the events of Conspiratopia:
And probably some others I’m missing.
In any event, I’d love to do a sequel (or several) to Conspiratopia, written with or without the help of AI, I don’t know yet… Like a “Return to Conspiratopia,” a common enough trope in the utopian genre.
Okay, that’s all I can think of for that book. Scattered throughout this blog are other rabbit holes you can follow down the AI lore books. There’s no right or wrong entry point into them, and everyone will have their own experience as they traverse the nodes of the distributed narrative worlds I’ve been working on.
See you on the other side!