A debut sci-fi author suggests that the electoral process could be even scarier, more convoluted, and more subject to factual distortions than it currently is.
In the future, the entire world signs on to the “micro-democracy” form of government. Each population of 100,000 people, or “centenal,” votes every 10 years for a government in their area; the one who wins the most centenals gains the Supermajority. Elections and voting are operated and monitored by Information, the organization that also runs the Internet, the phone, and all broadcasting systems. Heritage has held the Supermajority for decades, but the outcome for them seems less certain as the election looms. Both Mishima, an expert troubleshooter for Information, and Ken, an ambitious campaigner for the up-and-coming Policy1st government, hear rumors that the powerful Liberty government might be trying to start a war. Anarchist Domaine, in a loud but essentially ineffectual way, argues for the downfall of the current political system. When an act of sabotage brings down Information on Election Day, who’s to blame, and what is their ultimate goal? The romance between Mishima and Ken feels somewhat undeveloped, but it’s counterbalanced by the larger themes Older is exploring. The author brings a considerable amount of experience and scholarly knowledge to bear here—she has traveled all over the world as an expert in disaster management and is pursuing a graduate degree in the sociology of disaster response. The result is a frighteningly relevant exploration of how the flow of information (small i, both true and false) can manipulate public opinion—in particular, how fear and the desperate desire for safety can become such strong factors in swaying the vote.
Some aspects of the story may risk dating, but on the whole, timely and perhaps timeless.