In Erickson’s (Eagle: Birds of Flight, 2013) dystopian sci-fi novel, a cryogenically frozen scientist wakes up in the year 2155 to find that he’s the only man in a matriarchal military state.
In 2019, Lt. Jose Melendez is a scientist on the autism spectrum who uses himself as a test subject in his innovative cryogenics research. When a sudden, unrelated pandemic causes nearly all adult men on Earth to become violent, Melendez is one of the few who are unaffected, and he soon becomes the subject of military testing. His work in cryogenics takes on a new urgency as it may hold the key to keeping mankind alive. He’s frozen as part of an eight-month cryogenics test, but he isn’t thawed until more than 150 years later. His rescuers are four cybernetic “artificial persons” who have been expelled from society for exercising free will. In this future world’s matriarchal society, all male youths are similarly “cast out” of society when they reach puberty. Melendez and the APs learn that the government is actually murdering the boys, despite the long-ago eradication of the original pandemic, so they form a guerrilla-style group to try to stop the killings. Meanwhile, Maj. Mare Singh tries to stay focused on her military career, but secretly spends all of her free time watching, through mirrored glass, the young son she was forced to give up. When she discovers that Melendez has implanted a computer virus into all APs, she soon learns of the murders, and she comes up with a plan of her own to save her son and the other boys. In this first, two-part installment of a planned series of novellas, Erickson artfully raises profound ethical and philosophical questions regarding class systems, gender equality, neurodiversity and what it means to be human. He draws on classical references, and especially literature, in his work, and readers will likely appreciate the way he beautifully weaves in references to Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and other masters of science fiction. Overall, it’s dystopian literature at its finest.
A gripping story featuring well-constructed characters, poignant moral dilemmas and a chillingly realistic dystopian future.