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Review of science fiction novel The Babel Apocalypse by Vyvyan Evans

cover of The Babel Apocalypse by Vyvyan Evans

Language is no longer learned, but streamed to neural implants regulated by lang-laws. Those who can’t afford language streaming services are feral, living on the fringes of society. Big tech corporations control language, the world’s most valuable commodity.

But when a massive cyberattack causes a global language outage, catastrophe looms.

Europol detective Emyr Morgan is assigned to the case. His prime suspect is Professor Ebba Black, the last native speaker of language in the automated world, and leader of the Babel cyberterrorist organization. But Emyr soon learns that in a world of corporate power, where those who control language control everything, all is not as it seems.

As he and Ebba collide, Emyr faces an existential dilemma between loyalty and betrayal, when everything he once believed in is called into question. To prevent the imminent collapse of civilization and a global war between the great federations, he must figure out friend from foe—his life depends on it. And with the odds stacked against him, he must find a way to stop the Babel Apocalypse.

Excerpt from The Babel Apocalypse

As I was about to glance back at the voices, a light flickered in my peripheral vision, drawing my gaze upward to the night sky. A soft white glow, high up in the dark. At first it was indistinguishable from the airway lights. But it persisted, the size of a small disk at first, before shifting to red-orange, getting larger. At that point I realized it definitely couldn’t be a hover car. This was farther up, probably low Earth orbit, which explained the initial white. But the shift in coloration—that meant a detonation, producing nitrogen dioxide, which turned deep orange when mixed with air. A gaseous cloud has reached the atmosphere, I thought. I was witnessing a chemical explosion in space large enough to be visible to the naked eye. But what was exploding?

My Review of The Babel Apocalypse

This may be one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. As someone who makes a living out of words and communicating stories, the idea of big tech-regulated language is at once fascinating and terrifying. The implications of identity and culture this book explores are chilling, and I sincerely hope things never find their way to this point.

I was initially torn about hearing the story from the perspective of the regulatory side that was promoting controlling language, but as it turns out, that was a great strength of the story. I’ve read plenty of books from the angle of the passionate rebellion that wants to take down the regulating body that would steal personal freedoms, so this was a nice break from that. The ending left me reeling. I actually had to take a few days to process how things ended up for the protagonist. With some time away from it, I can view the book in its entirety and see it for the master delivery of a warning that it is. But don’t let this description fool you. It was also a fantastic story. This is not a book that hammers home a point at the expense of the plot (I’ve also read my fair share of those).

I highly recommend this, especially to science fiction, thriller, and dystopia fans. So much to unpack in here that I can’t possibly cover in a short review. Besides, you shouldn’t take my angle as your own—this is the kind of book that you need to read to feel the full impact.

About Vyvyan Evans

author Vyvyan Evans

Dr. Vyvyan Evans is a native of Chester, England. He holds a PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and is a Professor of Linguistics. He has published numerous acclaimed popular science and technical books on language and linguistics. His popular science essays and articles have appeared in numerous venues including ‘The Guardian’, ‘Psychology Today’, ‘New York Post’, ‘New Scientist’, ‘Newsweek’ and ‘The New Republic’. His award-winning writing focuses, in one way or another, on the nature of language and mind, the impact of technology on language, and the future of communication. His science fiction work explores the status of language and digital communication technology as potential weapons of mass destruction.


The author will be awarding a physical paperback copy of the book (available internationally) to a randomly drawn commenter.

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