A dystopian sci-fi novel imagines a future New England crippled by pollution and under the control of ruthless corporate patriarchs.
In 2082, ongoing opportunistic development and runaway pollution have rendered the planet nearly uninhabitable. Lack of resources, coupled with an endless succession of natural disasters, including tornadoes, tsunamis, and wildfires, left a crumbling infrastructure and the rise of religious and economic autocrats who battle one another for power over the vulnerable population. Tiny Tully Island is an enclave of independent resistance to both the cult of the Hartford priests and the false benevolence of the Sanmart Corporation based in Albany. Herbal healer Fair and her adopted daughter, Terra, have a happy life there until concern for the safety of Fair’s son, Orion, takes them on a rescue mission, where they discover just how dangerous tyranny and elitism can be. In this dystopian novel, Beer (Human Scale, 2010, etc.) confronts a number of topical issues in a gripping, quick-paced tale of greed and self-sacrifice set in the near future. In a few careful phrases, Beer evokes the tenuous position of Tully (“Democracy keeps its head up here, along with a canny system of hiding their resources from the outside world”; the desperate squalor of a refugee camp (“rat stew”); and the frightening sincerity of the authoritarian apologist who says of democracy, “Fair to who? Think about it. Do you want folks who are stupid or ignorant or just plain twisted to be deciding your affairs?” One hardly begrudges a few amazing coincidences, such as Terra’s ease in finding her long-lost birth father, on the way to the satisfyingly ambiguous ending.
A view of the possible results of unbridled corporatism that is both unsettling and empowering.