What would happen if you raised a child from birth using only technology? What the child knew no love, received no nurturing, lived in a stark basement, and everything he learned about the outside world came from the internet?
The Eternal Echo, by Jeff Musillo aims to find out. The book features a Doctor named Ravensdale who is depraved, obsessed, and utterly indifferent to the consequences of his actions,
He conducts an unusual experiment. He adopted a baby boy (known only as “The Subject”) and raised the child from infancy to adulthood, strictly by use of technology, mostly the internet. The Subject, after absorbing a steady diet of violent imagery, snuff films, verbal abuse, online bullying, and pornographic sex, is set loose on an unsuspecting world.
The Doctor believes he is trying to discover the key to the human psyche. He convinces himself that he’s conducting one of the most significant experiments in human history. In actuality, he has raised a murderous, psychotic monster.
Jeff answered some questions about this totally dark and rather awesome book.
It wasn’t my initial intention. And I’m still not completely sure if it’s my full goal with this book, although the negatives associated with technology are undoubtedly one of the main issues.
The driving point for me was Addiction. In reality, whatever evil there is with technology, there is just as much positivity. But, with this novel, I focused on trying to show how technology helped fuel the Doctor’s addiction to his experiment, and ultimately his malicious behavior, as well as his Subject’s behavior.
This book is one of the darkest and most bleak books that I ever read, can you talk a bit about your mindset when writing it?
Echo is definitely the darkest thing I’ve ever written. It’s the first time where, following every writing session, I had to do something to distance myself from the story. I’d usually work anywhere from 1-3 hours a day on the story and once the session was done I turned on The Office to feel better. This helped me get back somewhat of a normal feeling and get the hell away from Ravensdale.
There’s one part in the book that was almost too much for me. It involves a rape. It made me really sad and upset and it was actually the moment where I said to myself, “If I can write this, I can finish the book. If not, I’m giving up.” In the long run, from a literary angle, I’m glad I was able to write it since it drives home a major point in the story. But it still makes me sad to think about.
Critics have described your book as a cross between Frankenstein and American Pyscho, do you think that is an apt description?
I love that description. I hope other people feel that way about this book. I always knew Echo would be about a doctor creating a monster, so I thought a lot about Frankenstein while developing the story. And American Psycho is one of my all-time favorite novels. I think it’s frequently misunderstood and funny and potent, and yes, violent. But I’ve always felt that the violence in that story was crucial.
Buy Eternal Echo here.