Citizens of a future America covertly formulate a rebellion against wealthy, totalitarian leaders in Bollington’s (Mechanic of Fortune, 2012, etc.) dystopian novel.
By 2116, the United States is a shadow of its former self. After a third world war left the country in ruins in 2023, the ruling class, the Oligarchy, re-established the nation as President Citizenfarm, or PCF. Later, in the 2040s, the Domenicon Region, consisting of rebels clutching onto the final remnants of the old America, opposed PCF and sparked a second Civil War. Some still live in Domenicon, a heavily forested area confined and constantly monitored by PCF’s security. But Security Director Jacob Stahzi suspects resistance to the Presidential Cabinet’s authority, namely Jackson Deepcliff. Deepcliff’s an Oligarch (and probable Presidential Cabinet member) but surrounded by “irregularities,” including occasional visits to Domenicon. Stahzi sends newly hired Sebastian Barnes and Vironika Ku to spy on Deepcliff as his employees. Meanwhile, someone’s circulating comic books—actually manifestos in disguise alluding to infamous rebel leader Carlos Shadrist. The comic books are cropping up in baseball stadiums, now-empty museums since the PCF’s attempt to change baseball rules and optimize profitability led to fan outcry and the sport being outlawed. Security Forces eventually arrest and interrogate Deepcliff, whose link to Shadrist could very well get him a “dose of EE” (Early Extermination). The story certainly has its somber moments. EE, for one, is only sometimes a punishment; it’s more often decided by lottery and considered a heroic sacrifice. But a favorite pastime signifying the citizens’ would-be uprising lightens the tone: people even live—and plan to stage the rebellion—at stadiums. There are unmistakable shades of Nineteen Eighty-Four, particularly Sebastian’s writing gig revising history text with “the Olgar airbrush.” The tale shines with characters and playfully ironic subplots; poor sardonically named Gen. Hector LeMayhem’s likely afflicted with Empathy Obsession Disorder. A gradual buildup to a potential rebellion begets an ending that, while satisfying, leaves a few things vague. When Narsilan, for example, a drug rendering the user susceptible to commands, moves from concept to application, the result is unsettling but not fully realized. But maybe that lingering feeling of unease is Bollington’s intention.
A leisurely satire of U.S. politics in the 22nd century that’s sometimes eerily plausible.