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Found 16 results

  1. Blue Ticket is a dystopian story, probably set in a near future, where women's fertility is controlled by the state. Young women are subjected to a lottery where the majority are allocated a blue ticket - they will not have children and will wear a mirena IUD to make them infertile. A few receive a white ticket and a life of motherhood awaits. The blue ticket girls are told they are the lucky ones, free to have fun, free from responsibilities, free to pursue a career. Calla receives a blue ticket and keeps it in a locket around her neck - as the law requires. But after a few years
  2. The Old Man and The Boy service an off shore wind farm out in the North Sea, way beyond being able to see land. They live on a platform (I imagine Sealand) and their view is just the sea and various generations of decaying turbines. As one turbine dies, they cannibalise its parts to repair others. The Boy is there to replace his father who broke his contract. The Old Man has always been there. They are serviced by a quarterly supply boat whose master runs a black market trading racket. He trades the lagan and jetsam that the Old Man is able to fish up from the seabed in return for the supplies
  3. The Last was a bit of a guilty pleasure. Set in a hotel in Switzerland, a mixed bag of staff and guests find themselves survivors of a nuclear holocaust that seems to have wiped out the rest of the world. When the initial tweets and news stories started to circulate, many of the guests fled for the airport. Those left behind were the ones who had nothing to flee for. Jon Keller is an American academic who was at the hotel for a history conference. His fellow delegates left but Jon, an uber-rationalist, saw no point in fleeing. The roads would be jammed, the planes would be grounded
  4. All The Galaxies is a strange and hypnotic blend of four stories that cross and merge and unmerge again.First, there is Scotland in the near future. Following a second independence referendum (which we presume Scotland lost), law and order has broken down in The Horrors, but strong city state governments have emerged from the remnants of local councils. Within Greater Glasgow, control is being reasserted, the internet has been restored and the leader of the sinister Wardens movement, Wee Lawrence, is in Barlinnie. Oh, and Rangers FC (or should that be Sevco) is no more – so it’s not all doom a
  5. MADDADDAM is the last in the Oryx and Crake trilogy. It is set during the year following the “waterless flood”, the disease engineered by Crake to wipe out humanity. The flood left behind isolated human groups and individuals that begin to find each other. Not all of them are as ‘good’ as the few surviving God’s Gardeners. The ‘ungood’ are a trio of ‘Painballers’ - killer criminals who survived the ultimate penalty of the justice system. The most important group of survivors are the Crakers, the humanlike beings engineered by Crake to replace the human race. Unfortunately, the Crakers are il
  6. Max Barry is an ideas man. He has previously written of a kind of government/corporate interface full of conspiracies and rules. His works have a Brave New World feel to them. In Lexicon, we find a society where people fall, unknown to themselves, into various categories of personality, each persuadable through the use of keywords that bypass the critical thinking parts of the brain and get straight into the core. Sort of. Max Barry explains it better. From a bizarre opening, we rapidly fall into a Men In Black/Bourne Identity type world where a small group of people control the worl
  7. Welcome to Orphancorp is a novella set in a dystopian Australia where orphanages have been commodified, the young people in their care being little more than child labourers working for the enrichment of persons unseen. The staff are mostly unthinking automata, but at worst they are sadistic jailers. We meet Mirii, a sassy 17 year old who is due to be released into the open in just a week. She has to keep her nose clean to avoid missing her release and being packed off to Prisoncorp – which in any case seems to be the fate of former orphans who don’t quickly find employment and accommodati
  8. Charmaine and Stan are living in the near future, a time when the economy has collapsed across the American Midwest, people are jobless, broke and picking over the leftovers of a bygone age. Those who fled in time to the west coast were lucky; those who didn’t face a bleak future. So, when Charmaine and Stan are offered a chance to live in a gated, self-sufficient community that still enjoys plentiful food, security and employment, what’s not to like? Somewhat oddly, at any given time half the population of the commune lives in prison whilst the other half have houses, scooters and jobs –
  9. Ice Cream Star is a 15 year old girl, living an outlaw life in post-Apocalyptic Massachusetts. She lives in a tribal world divided mostly, it seems, on ethnic grounds. Whilst Ice Cream and her band of outlaws scavenge the leftovers from the old world (the world of the Sleepers), other tribes seem to have a better life. One of the first things to have been lost, it seems, is the power of language. Ice Cream narrates in the patois of her tribe, a mostly monosyllabic language owing a debt to her tribe’s African American heritage, and perhaps a dose of French Creole. Hence, good becomes bone;
  10. So this is where Hugh Howey and I will part company. I bought Sand when it was released, buoyed by the first two novels in the Wool series (Wool and Shift). I had not yet been disappointed by the final Wool novel (Dust). So, I have had this sitting on my Kindle for a while, not being quite sure what to expect. And it started off well. The creation of a dystopian world, a future Colorado, swamped by sand. People diving through the sand in suits that can channel the sand around the diver, creating solid sand or liquefying it as needed. Treasure hunters, diving for lost cities, bringing up arte
  11. Wool was surprisingly inventive and engaging. Shift gave an interesting backstory. And realistically, given where Wool left off, there was only one direction the trilogy could go. And it goes there. Dust is slow. The depth of characterisation seems to have disappeared - we have to take it on faith (or memory of Wool) that Juliette has a personality and that we care about her. But, alas, she seems to have become a generic heroine on a mission - much activity, mostly illogical and counterproductive - but very little reason to care about it. We meet Solo, Lukas, Donald and Charlotte from Wool
  12. Flowertown starts so well. It creates a menacing world in which a town and its people have been quarantined following a chemical spill. The medicines people take to combat the poisons make them smell of flowers, hence Flowertown. The world is well created; it is frustrating but necessary. People suffer privations, but it is for the greater good. Of course, it turns out that sinister things are afoot. But these reveal themselves gradually. This is a slow burner of a thriller with the first half, at least, caught up on the domesticity of the situation. Ellie, for example, is a university gra
  13. The Circle is a book that will appeal to readers who like a novel to have a message. A message written in such unambiguous terms that even the most unobservant reader couldn't miss it. It will appeal to readers who like to be beaten around the head with the message until it hurts. The Circle is an internet service provider that joins people's records together. We follow new recruit, Mae Holland, as she starts work in the futuristic offices of The Circle, somewhere in the greater San Francisco area. The offices have every amenity an employee could want; free food, free drink, free clothes, fr
  14. The Swan Book is a difficult read. There are metaphors within metaphors, literary references referring back to various cultures and ages. Broadly, The Swan Book follows the life of an Aboriginal girl, Oblivia Ethyl(ene) Oblivion. Oblivia is rescued as a child from a hollow treetrunk and grows up living in the hull of a ship in a semi-dried lake, being raised by a white woman, Bella Donna. The community seems to be a mixture of exiled aborigines, deemed troublesome by the authorities, and migrants fleeing the effects of climate change around the world. One day, swans come to the lake. The swan
  15. A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists is weird. It starts out as a pretty regular, post-apocalyptic vision of Melbourne in 2030. Climate Change has happened and Australia has turned into a furnace that is liable to flood. There is homelessness, people living in shacks and a UN peace keeping force. Infrastructure has broken down; trains seldom run and utilities are unreliable. Water is a scarce and expensive commodity. This is the world in which we meet Caddy, a 30 year old woman whose life has unravelled with the climate. There are hints of a better, more prosperous past. But for now, Ca
  16. Shift is a prequel - don't read it unless you have already read Wool. Shift sets the scene that we discover in Wool. We find out why people are living in silos, we find out a little bit about how the silos operate and what the game plan might be. And most of all, we discover a lift. That's right, after all the stairs in Wool, we find a perfectly functional lift allowing easy access between floors. In Solo 1. Unlike the early, claustrophobic scenes in Wool, we find narrative switching between silos; we find backstories and time shifts. We find an outside world, albeit one in far histo
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