on 15 May 2012
David Ely's book is deeply dystopian and although it's 16 years old, it's message is as fresh as when it was written. The underpinning concept is man v nature and what happens when we - inevitably - lose the fight. The theme is exclusion and what happens when the protagonist chooses to speak up and step out of line. Mix in a fragmented society where touching is frowned on, and people have 'virtual' sex with random strangers, and you have a winning story.
Well written and engaging, whether you like the main character isn't the point - it's whether you agree with what he does. I got drawn into his exclusion and how easy it is for civilisation to be stripped away from us.
If you liked Margaret Atwood's 'Oryx and Crake' or 'Handmaid's Tale', then you'll enjoy this too.
on 2 July 2009
This takes a little application and some thinking to appreciate -- so it won't suit everyone. Ely's peek into the future -- first published 16 years ago -- doesn't explain everything straight away but lets the reader develop ideas, creating a personal mindscape of the future. It's a bleak dystopian vision of a future dominated by engineering prowess (or is it?) and corporate chicanery. In a time when the sea level is creeping inexorably upwards worldwide, when corporate and political misbehaviour demonstrate that exactly the wrong people have been entrusted with our collective future, it's a sobering read -- with no happy ending.
I decided to buy this book after reading a promising newspaper review.
The plot of the book is that there has been a large rise in sea levels and the response of nations around the world is to build large sea walls that people can live behind. However, there is a leak in one of the walls. One man, who has seen the leak in the wall, tries to tell the powers that be, but their reliance on technology, which hasn't detected a leak, means that they do not believe him. This seems like a good storyline, but there are a number of things that let it down as a good book.
Firstly, it doesn't cover any new ground. It is full of things already done, such as an authoritarian government and various classes of peoples, that there is nothing original in the book whatsoever.
Secondly, as this is a sci-fi book there is an awful lot of new technology with funny names, such as voxits, telemax, EAR links. This is fine if it's explained what the funny named things do, but it's not. So you're left confused as to what exactly is going on and means that the book doesn't flow well.
Thirdly, and most disturbingly, large sections of the book are devoted to talking about a bizarre machine for simulating sex - the stimulator. Far too much time is devoted to this machine and constant referring is just simply bizarre.
Overall, a very poor book, full of clichés that talks very little about the subject at hand - a breach in a sea wall.