Verdict: SYSTEM: WITH HIS FACE IN THE SUN provides an intriguing take on a familiar theme and a thoughtful warning about the potential future of the human race.
In a world controlled by the all-knowing System, its creator’s grandson must come to terms with the possibility that it may not be as benevolent as it seems.
Wallace Blair, like everyone else in his world, seems to have everything all laid out for him. The all-knowing, all-powerful System cheerfully predicts what everyone needs and fills it automatically, without need for effort. It has given him a loving wife, two beautiful children, a fulfilling job, and constant monitoring of his health and well-being. But when the System informs him that it is time for his marriage to Transition into divorce, he is horrified. Then he learns that his grandfather is not fading away with dementia in a nursing home, as he’d always been told, but has gone off somewhere unknown. When he finds the old man and hears what he has to say, Wallace begins to question everything he’s always believed. What is the System really up to, and what are its motivations? Is it really there for everyone’s good? And, if not, is there any way of fighting back?
SYSTEM takes a common science fiction plot and adds some interesting twists, in particular the origin of the all-controlling mentality and its close ties to our own world. The best dystopias have their roots firmly planted in the present, so that the reader can see where they might reasonably come from, and this one is no exception. The author takes the intriguing path, too, of not entirely demonizing the System, which after all is only a tool. He manages to provide some quite chillingly reasonable arguments for the necessity of even some of its most apparently immoral actions. Wallace and his father and grandfather are likeable characters, though, with their generational bond intact despite frequent sniping and arguments, and it’s easy to root for them.
The story does lack much suspense or action, being primarily explication, and fairly predictable explication at that. The System is too overpowered to fight, and the heroes are not given many tools with which to defeat it, so there’s not too much for the story to do. The writing would likely benefit from an edit for tightness, clarity, and punctuation. Some of the sentences can be clumsy, as in “A hug wound up with so much love for one brief moment the whole world for his son was his father’s arms, he was safe.”
SYSTEM: WITH HIS FACE IN THE SUN provides an intriguing take on a familiar theme and a thoughtful warning about the potential future of the human race.