If anyone told you a couple of decades ago that there would be some form of legalized marijuana in three-quarters of the states in the U.S., that we would willingly wear monitors on our wrists that collect health data and even make transactions for us, or that AI technology would be injected into everything from our search results to our automobiles, would you have believed them? Fast forward 20-odd years from today to the America envisioned in Tim Ruplin’s 2044, and you’ll find one author’s unsettling vision of where such a trajectory could lead.

In this near-future sci-fi novel, Canada is a socialist hellhole, bent under the weight of its many programs to prop up the non-working, and the government continues to prosecute illegal drug use. Down in the United States, though, things have gone much differently. All drugs are legal, and productivity is booming. But the legalization of drugs comes with high taxes on alcohol, so social drinking is extremely expensive and black-market alcohol could kill you.

A U.S. UTOPIA … AT LEAST FOR THOSE WEALTHY ENOUGH

Everyone wears a wristband that’s rather like a very advanced smartwatch, which monitors all body functions and connects to “health maintenance patches” or “med-patches” containing microdoses of a wide range of drugs, from innocuous dietary supplements to formerly controlled substances like fentanyl. The drugs are released throughout the day automatically by the wristband or by request of the wearer but are also controlled to prevent overdoses. The drugs have increased worker productivity and stamina, helping people sleep at night and wake up in the morning. 

The country has become a utopia, with no more stress or chaos, since most of the population has embraced wearing the wristbands and patches. There’s no more pain or, for that matter, inconveniences. Provided you can afford the technology.

Tim Hallett, 51, lives with his two sons, plus his mother, brother, niece, and an elderly family friend named Acton in Acton’s large Long Island home. Tim’s brother Will is an unemployed alcoholic addicted to cheap “shine” who is too poor to wear a wristband or patches. Tim’s son Jack is in love with a very poor girl whose family doesn’t wear wristbands for monetary and religious reasons.

TECHNOLOGY AT THE COST OF PRIVACY AND HEALTH

Tim runs afoul of new HR protocols at work when he uses his wristband to summon an ambulance for his drunken brother. He discovers that HR is tracking him through the wristband, including his conversations. But no longer using the wristband isn’t an option — it’s used for communication, to pay for things, for taking public transportation. Taking it off even for a short time can lead to withdrawal symptoms from the drugs. At the same time, Jack’s forced to stop wearing patches if he wants to marry his girlfriend Christi.

Enter the 164, a secretive, subversive, religious program, the offspring of Alcoholics Anonymous, dedicated to getting people off patches and alcohol, and their arch-opponent, “The System,” comprised of AI that is secretly running the United States. 

2044 spins a tangled web of intrigue. People turn out not to be who they seem. Everyone is connected in strange ways. Conspiracy theories abound. The savior of the world comes from an entirely unexpected direction, and the end … well you’ll just have to read the book to see where this is all headed. One thing is for sure: let’s just hope this vision of the future stays contained within the pages of this book.

Buy this book!

About Tim Ruplin:

Tim Ruplin has worked in the investment field for decades but has always been most passionate about writing. A husband, father, grandfather, brother, and son, (and awful golfer) he strives daily to do the next right thing. He is beyond grateful and keenly aware that every day above the grass is a gift. He works hard to make the best of each and every day.

A Long Island native, he now lives just a few miles from the hospital where he was born. His whirlwind youth brought him to Minnesota and beyond, but fate deposited him back in New York.