Chilling premise of Wigan-born author's new novel

Cyberpunk book London 2039: Auxiliary has ended up being rather closer to reality than its writer perhaps originally thought.
Author David DarbyshireAuthor David Darbyshire
Author David Darbyshire

The new book by David Darbyshire, whose pen name Jon Richter is on the cover, is set in a world dominated by high-tech machines, with driverless cars and drones filling the streets and people’s everyday lives watched over by an ever-present AI system called TIM (The Intelligence Machine).

But when a young woman is found brutally murdered in her apartment, the killing weapon is a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb and her boyfriend who is arrested swears he had nothing to do with the death, the detective in charge of the investigation is plunged into a dangerous world of conspiracies and artificial intelligence.

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Former Standish High pupil David says bringing London 2039: Auxiliary to the shelves has been a long process and it is finally being released at a time when some of its themes are especially relevant due to Covid-19.

He said: “I wrote most of this one about two years ago. It’s been more than a year of the editing and preparing process.

“This is my first foray into cyberpunk, although it’s a sci-fi novel more broadly.

“There are interesting parallels with our times with desolate streets and everyone staying indoors. People have been made obsolete by machines so they’re on universal basic income, which is also a hot topic at the moment.

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“I’ve extrapolated a lot of current technological trends and turned them into what I think might be a realistic vision of the future.

“There are no jobs so people entertain themselves with virtual reality tech and augmented reality software.”

David says the new book was influenced by cyberpunk film Blade Runner and the work of authors such as William Gibson and Richard Morgan.

Although the books he has completed so far and is working on are quite different, he says they all have a similar feel.

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He also said London 2039: Auxiliary was partly influenced by his deep interest in the capabilities of the most advanced computers on the planet.

He cited the example of a computer which was able to beat a grandmaster in the strategy board game go, as its programmers had to admit they did not really know how it achieved the feat with the machine essentially teaching itself what to do from the data fed into it.

London 2039: Auxiliary, by Jon Richter, is out on May 1. For more information visit

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