I’m borrowing this author from a friend and reading my way through his titles.  This is the second one I’ve read and I found myself chuckling at its dystopic vision.  It’s the near future, climate change has been held off by genetically modified New Trees.  Technology keeps us informed.  The really scary people in this scenario, in the Orwellian sense, are the nicest people, the ones who know what’s good for you and are involved at every level of your life: the health nurse, the policeman, your local candidate…  It turns out that Newspeak’s concept of blackwhite works, and you can be punished for being innocent.

There’s a pill, called the Fix, and if an expectant mother takes it, her child will be born without defect and with a natural resistance to disease.  Hope Morrison has an inarticulate middle-class resistance to this type of interference.  By the end of the book it turns out there’s good reason, and it questions what children is a future society willing to produce.  It was the twisted dialogue in this novel that made me laugh.  It was all so plausible, and not too far from what we already tolerate.  In fact I wondered why there were so few concerned citizens.  There were a few.  Many seemed to have become compromised and trapped in the system.

The story fell into place when halfway through when I realised I could imagine Hope’s husband Hugh Morrison being played by Arthur Darvill and it worked!

In both titles I’ve read Ken MacLeod does not do happy endings.  Typical Scottish New Gloom Science Fiction?  Inserting Psalm 137: 8-9 turned out to be a foreboding of the Shape of Things to Come.  We are at war with Eurasia, and we have always been allies with Eastasia.

I wonder what title I will get to read next?

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