The BBC's Brian Wheeler reports that Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell's classic tale of a fake news editor at a popular British tabloid, has sold out only days into the new administration of President Donald Trump. (It's the #1 book at Amazon, with only used copies in stock; the company promises new Prime-shipped paperbacks in a week. The Blu-Ray of the John Hurt movie's sold out too.)
In the top five is It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis's classic cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, which predicts the "chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press."
Also flying high is Aldous Huxley's 1935 novel Brave New World, which imagined a insidiously totalitarian future where prescription medications, relentless entertainment and consumerist excess make violent repression unnecessary, where "slaves ... do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude."
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 sneaks back into the top 50, right behind Trump: The Art of the Deal, a ghostwritten autobiography rumored to have never been read by its ostensible author.
The most dystopian book in the bestseller lists, though, was not included in the BBC's roundup: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck, by personal development consultant Mark Manson, who has cracked the art of standing out in the crowded self-help genre: "Fuck positivity. Let’s be honest, shit is fucked and we have to live with it." Read the rest
Marcus Sakey's Brilliance trilogy takes us to an alternate United States crippled with bigotry, and being torn apart at the seams by self-serving politicians. I could barely put it down, I almost thought I was reading the news.
America and the world were transformed in the 1980s by the next step in our genetic future: One percent of all children born are born intellectual savants. They have enhanced skills, and senses, new ways to access the underused portions of their human brain. How America spends the next 30 years mistreating, misunderstanding and alienating this small percentage of the populace, while exploiting their skills is predictable, and sad. By current day, things are ready to boil over and a fantastic story explodes.
Sakey creates a wonderful world, where the balance between politics, characters, and action are very well done. No one is lovable, no one is without blame, and while some of the technology, and science, may be fantastic, the outcomes are all too believable. The giant showdown, a building-to-building battle against American redneck militia dudes, and a bunch of parents who want to protect their 'brilliant' kids, is wonderful.
I got all three novels via Kindle Unlimited.
Tom Abrahams' Home introduces us to a prepper nightmare. His vision of life in a post-plague America is worse than I'd imagined.
Former military expert and super prepper Battle has spent the last few years doing nothing but readying his 50 acres, wife and son for the impending doom of society. He has years of supplies, all the guns and ammo you could want, a special mineral rights deal with someone to supply never ending power to his fortress, he thought of every contingency! Sadly, his wife lets a plague ridden neighbor in for some tea.
Battle has to cope with this odd failure, while pretty much kicking the shit out of everything that gets even remotely intrudes on his home. While completely out of his control, Battle is fueled by this failure and sets out to save a stranger's son from an unknown fate. A lot of bullets fly, people get killed.
The action, motivations and organization of post-plague, Cartel run America felt right to me. Bad guys are not so cut and dry bad, unless they are at the very top, and the evolution of post-collapse society painted a scarily realistic picture. I'm looking forward to seeing where Abrahams takes this story next, and if the fallible prepper, Mr. Battle grows.
Over the past decade or so, gritty, apocalyptic worlds were the favored setting of popular video games, and machinelike cyber-dystopias were a reliable aesthetic before that. But No Man's Sky, a highly-anticipated upcoming world, is infinite and hopeful. Read the rest
Jim Munroe writes, "We've put our science fiction visions of Toronto's future together in a 2015 calendar called FALLEN TORONTO as a new Kickstarter reward for backing our neo-noir sci-fi webseries HAPHEAD. If you live here you can shiver in nameless dread all the year round, and if you live elsewhere you can revel in schadenfreude at the fall of our socialist den of iniquity." Read the rest
William Campbell Powell is a new young adult author whose debut novel, Expiration Day due out on April 1. Powell's book was bought out of the "slush pile" -- the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive at publishers by the truckload - at Tor Books and I read it a year ago to give it a jacket quote, and really enjoyed it.
Powell came by my office a couple weeks ago to talk about the book, and we had a great chat that's been mixed down to a smart seven minutes. I hope you enjoy this -- and look for my review of Expiration Day on April 1. Here's a bit of it: Read the rest
G4S, the scandal-haunted private security firm, is one of the world's largest companies, with 657,000 staff. It's about to get bigger, according to G4S's UK/Africa chief David Taylor-Smith, who predicts that the UK's police forces will begin to privatize, turning duties over from public employees (who are, theoretically, accountable to the public) to private mercenaries and security staff, who will be accountable only to G4S's shareholders. Matthew Taylor and Alan Travis report in The Guardian.
Taylor-Smith said core policing would remain a public-sector preserve but added: "We have been long-term optimistic about the police and short-to-medium-term pessimistic about the police for many years. Our view was, look, we would never try to take away core policing functions from the police but for a number of years it has been absolutely clear as day to us – and to others – that the configuration of the police in the UK is just simply not as effective and as efficient as it could be."
Concern has grown about the involvement of private firms in policing. In May more than 20,000 officers took to the streets to outline their fears about pay, conditions and police privatisation. The Police Federation has warned that the service is being undermined by creeping privatisation.
Unite, the union that represents many police staff, said the potential scale of private-sector involvement in policing was "a frightening prospect". Peter Allenson, national officer, said: "This is not the back office – we are talking about the privatisation of core parts of the police service right across the country, including crime investigation, forensics, 999 call-handling, custody and detention and a wide range of police services