At an unspecified time in the future, big business controls nearly all aspects of civilized life. From clothing that displays ads based on nearby consumers to food production that comes from only one company, escaping the vice of control is nearly impossible.
To make matters even more dismal, human reproduction is no longer possible without the aid of expensive technology. Due to a genetic problem in the past, all living humans are believed to be sterile clones, incapable of making their own children without the benefit of a complex system that requires various applications, a lot of money, and one company that essentially controls who will be born and who will not.
Trudging his way through this dreary world is Moyer Winfield. A low-paid computer programmer with a passion for books (though many of the classics have been banned), Winfield muddles through a job that, though it allows him to live better than the laboring classes, does not get close to allowing he and his wife enough to afford a baby. And much to Winfield’s dismay, there is little more in life that his somewhat ditzy wife Robyn wants than a baby.
As Winfield seals a secret pact with a powerful man in order to get his wife what she wants, it is clear that danger lurks around the corner. When the deal begins to turn sour, Winfield may have no other option than to join with a small resistance group that lives far outside his city. Will he throw away the world he knows in order to trust in the unknown?
Reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, in many ways Moyer Winfield is not all that different from Winston Smith. Both men begin as mild rebels in their frightening worlds, gaining momentum as the claws of totalitarian power (whether from government or business or both) close around them. This is true for many books that have followed Orwell’s high water mark. Dystopian futures where books and thoughts become the real weapons against oppression are nothing new and, on occasion, Winfield’s world reeks of obviousness.
A world of over-consumption where clothing has a corporate mind of its own is not nearly as much fun as Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story characters, fawning over “ass luxury” brand products though the message is more or less the same.
Nevertheless, Winfield is real enough as a protagonist to root for. No one chooses the world into which they are born and his attempts at survival are understandable. More complexity in his world and his character might have made the book more memorable, but it does fit neatly in the “possible enough to be frightening” scheme of science fiction.
Reviewed by Collin Marchiando for IndieReader