Reading Group Guide for Déjà Vu

Tread care­fully. Contains spoil­ers.

Who are the key characters?

In this story, we have two main char­ac­ters — David Proctor and Saskia Brandt. Which of these is the most enga­ging? David, who has led a priv­ileged life (albeit affected by tragedy), acqui­esces to an escape plan because he has noth­ing left to lose. Saskia, on the oth­er hand, is try­ing to find out who she is.

What is the book about?

Does this book have a theme? Is there a sense in which it helps us think about com­puter minds, or iden­tity, or free will?

Voices in the novel

Saskia is a German speak­er, so her English is rather terse and pre­cise. David uses an upper middle-class ver­nacu­lar. And we have Scotty, McWhirter, Janine, and Mrs McMurray. To what extent does the mode of speech affect the telling of the story? Did the author make the right decisions about how these accents were presen­ted?

The characters’ actions

Did you agree with and under­stand why the char­ac­ters acted in the ways they did? Were there moments when char­ac­ters did not behave in the man­ner you were expect­ing? Why might this be? Think about the author’s tech­nique of with­hold­ing inform­a­tion from you and the char­ac­ters — did this cre­ate a pleas­ant air of mys­tery or one of frus­tra­tion at being left out of the loop?

Projecting into the future

What do you think will hap­pen to the char­ac­ters next?

Time period

Much of this book is set in the year 2023. What did you think of the way this was described? What do you think a per­son from 2023 would make of this book?

Writing style

The book fea­tures short, punchy sen­tences. Did this make it easi­er or harder to read? Why do you think the author chose to write in this man­ner? Every author makes a decision about wheth­er to present a story in the first, third (even second) per­son. Was this appro­pri­ate here?

The author

At the end of the elec­tron­ic ver­sion of this book, the author has provided excerpts from his blog that describe the pro­cess of writ­ing, edit­ing and pub­lish­ing the book. Did you find that this changed what you thought about the book itself? As a read­er, do you like to know more about the author, or would you prefer they remain a little mys­ter­i­ous?

How did the book affect you?

Do you find your­self think­ing of the book in odd moments, or was it more of a throwaway read? Has it changed your atti­tude towards arti­fi­cially intel­li­gent agents, such as Apple’s voice-activ­ated Siri soft­ware for the iPhone? Do you worry about the impact of tech­no­logy on human­ity, or do you feel that tech­no­logy is ulti­mately a help­ful force?

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