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Is Raj Tamboli really Elon Musk?

Short answer: No

Nuanced answer: No. Well, not really, but I see what you mean. OK, yes, I was aware of some similarities as I was writing it, but not all of them. But it's not him, OK?

Longer answer: Well, you did ask. Here goes...

The name of Tamboli is important throughout my novels Integration, Long Division and Transformation. That's no great surprise, the trilogy is called the Tamboli Sequence, but it's the character of Raj Tamboli as portrayed in Integration that's important here. Don't worry, I'll avoid any spoilers. All the details outlined here will be revealed in the first chapter, which you can read if you take a look at the Preview on this website.

Raj Tamboli is CTO of Tethys, the company that made his fortune as a lead player in the reformed internet that evolved in the world of post-truth democracies. He has a long-term vision for the company, and humanity, and invests in disparate areas of research at Tethys aimed towards realising these dreams.

One aspect of this is space exploration and cosmological research, which led to a fleet of generation starships and the first hints of a faster-than-light space drive, all part of his desire to ensure humanity survives no matter what happens to our cradle planet, Earth.

All of this is really background information on the character–in fact, much of this is more important for the novels Long Division and Transformation that follow. However, it's not hard to see parallels with Elon Musk here: his vision to go to Mars and related developments with SpaceX, his vision to increase the use of renewable energy through solar panels, battery storage, electric cars etc.

I was aware of these resonances as I was writing it, but it wasn't a big deal as it was background detail to the world and character, and nothing too critical to the story itself. I even put a small nod towards this at one point, when the desktop background of a computer known to have been used by Raj Tamboli showed an image of a Mars landscape.

However, that all changed this morning when I read the first articles about another of Elon Musk's companies, NeuraLink–something I definitely wasn't aware of while writing the novel. There's an article on the BBC News website that covers this, but basically, the company is developing threads inserted into the brain as direct neural connections to computer interfaces. And what does Raj Tamboli's company develop in Integration that drives the whole story? A direct neural connection to a next-generation internet, called The Stream, via tendrils grown in the brain. Now that definitely wasn't an Elon Musk connection I was planning! The bastard :)

Oh well, these things happen. It doesn't change the story; indeed you could argue that it makes it even more pertinent. It's almost as if I really knew what I was talking about. Almost.

As a final aside, as I've mentioned before, Integration is partially a reworking of my debut novel, The Stream, now withdrawn from sale. That novel was a story that had been rattling around in my brain for 25 years or more before I had the chance to put it down onto paper. The internet had come and trampled over many of the ideas in the meantime, but the kernel was unchanged. In my mind over that period, the character of Raj Tamboli had more resonances with Bill Gates when he was in charge of Microsoft. The resonances with Elon Musk only came later. The character and the story have both evolved beyond recognition since then as, to some extent, has Bill Gates!

Oh yes, I was supposed to be writing the final book in the trilogy, Transformation. I'd best get back to it and stop wittering.

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