In a future dictatorship, detective Victor Vale starts questioning authority when, to infiltrate a dissident cell, he goes undercover as a writer.
Readers may be strongly reminded of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451—not so much by any Bradbury-esque poetry of language, which author Kruvant refrains from imitating, but by the similar consumer-dictatorship milieu, a capitalist police state in which artistic/creative acts are potential threats. Welcome to the Nation, a harsh, isolationist future-USA after WWIII, purged of nonwhites and micromanaged under a stern, distant female president. There’s a yawning chasm between rich and poor: ubiquitous robotics have left the now-obsolete working poor as a mob of beggars and low-caste disenfranchised homeless; those lucky enough to be born into the “Upperclass” or the government or security forces now dwell and commute in high-rise splendor in the skies, their affluent lives benumbed by violent video games, celebrity gossip, nanotech-enhanced sex, kitschy movies, and, of course, personal virtual-reality Internet connectivity. Art and literature are fiercely discouraged because “Creators” tend to rebel against the system. Narrator Victor Vale, a rising police detective, is fortunate enough to be married to a beautiful lawyer, and he expects further salary bonuses with a major assignment: go undercover as a Creator to determine whether Sylvester Huppington—head of a rare surviving book publisher and widely perceived to be a government lackey—actually leads a clandestine cell of Creators. But Vale’s vulnerabilities, such as sympathy for the beggars and a growing fascination with the Creator world, jeopardize his mission and his family. A great deal of this material is by now Dystopia 101, and the language is often rudimentary—perhaps befitting the writer/protagonist’s deliberately dumbed-down culture and upbringing. (Amusingly, while Bradbury’s “firemen” burned books, here the Technological Police Force “liquidate” them with some kind of spray-solvent.) Yet the entertaining narrative minefield pops with surprises and grim echoes of our present, keeping the pages turning toward a downbeat conclusion. In this battle of anti-intellectualism vs. the humanities, guess who has the bigger guns.
A bit familiar but exciting nonetheless.