Everything Belongs to the Future: a tale of pharmadystopian, immortal gerontocrats
Laurie Penny's first science fiction book, Everything Belongs to the Future, is available to the public as of today: if you've followed her work, you're probably expecting something scathing, feminist, woke, and smart as hell, and you won't be disappointed -- but you're going to get a lot more, besides.
Penny's story -- a novella from the Tor.com imprint -- is set in the last years of the 21st century, just as the very first ageless immortals are approaching their centenary. They are the beneficiaries of a drug that halts aging, a $100/day pill that you need to take every day -- a pill that revolutionizes the relationship of wealthy elites to the world. Once it's clear that the rich can live forever, patent law is immediately amended to provide for eternal royalties to the pharma company behind the drug, and climate change is suddenly a deadly serious business, with no expense spared for remediation. Inheritance laws and the relationship of rich children to their parents become very different indeed, and then there's the rest of us.
What if you don't have $400K/year to spare on anti-aging meds? Well, you could apply for a grant. The smartest scientists, the most successful artists, the people who amuse and assist the hyper-wealthy are all eligible for permanent, endless, lifetime supplies of the drugs. If you don't fit the bill, well, it's a meritocracy, isn't it? Try and raise some kids who amuse and entertain the super-wealthy and maybe they'll bud off a new immortal line. Follow your dreams, kids!
Penny's protagonists are a ragtag group of protesters, anarcho-syndicalist crustypunks who steal anti-aging meds from the rich students and dons of Oxford University and hand them out for free in the slums where the caretakers and janitors and waiters and sex-workers live. Unbeknownst to these resistors, one of their number is actually a police undercover agent, a snitch who's much older than he seems -- thanks to the anti-aging meds he receives as part of his compensation -- and who is sexually involved with one of them, besotted with her, planning to take her with him into a life everafter just before the police sweep in an take the rest of them into custody.
The scariest, most enduring dystopias walk a fine line between parable and prediction. Penny erases that line. In this made-up story, the rich speciate from the poor; in our real world, working class lifespans are declining as the one percent live ever longer lives at ever-greater removes from the rest of us. This is no mere literary device. This is a pitiless allegory, calculated to enrage and terrify its readers.
This is a book that is smart and merciless in its politics, expert in its storytelling, and uncomfortable in its ability to get under your skin.
Everything Belongs to the Future [Laurie Penny/Tor.com]
(Banner image: :Oxford Skyline Panorama from St Mary's Church, David Iliff, CC-BY-SA)
I can’t believe I have to write this, but maybe jamming other people’s shit up your ass isn’t a great idea. When done by medical professions, under very specific circumstances, a fecal transplant can mean the difference between life and death: implanting feces containing healthy gut microbiome into a patient’s body has been used by […]
Good news! This week, folks living in as far north as Michigan may get treated to a stunning light show as Auroras will be shining brighter and further away from the planet’s axis than usual. What a rare treat! The bad news: the same phenomenon that causes the Northern Lights to do their thing could […]
In 1990, once NASA’s twin Voyager probes had completed their grand tour of the solar system, it came time to shut off their cameras to preserve power and memory for the other scientific instruments onboard. But before that happened, there was one last photo opportunity not to be missed. Carl Sagan, a member of the […]
Trains may not be the most popular means of conveyance nowadays, but chances are you grew up playing with toy trains or building a model set to wrap around the Christmas tree. In either case, it’s safe to say that locomotives have long carried a unique sense of awe and scale, especially when they’re hundreds […]
When it comes to redesigning or renovating a living space, envisioning changes before they occur can be tricky for most. Thankfully, the web is home to tools that can remove some of the guesswork, like Live Home 3D Pro for Mac. This app lets you create detailed and furnished floor plans for everything from sheds and […]
For many startups and fledgling businesses, web hosting — and the fees associated with it — can take a sizeable chunk out of the company budget and limit growth down the road. But, that’s not to say there aren’t hosts out there who can get your site online while staying within your budget. Arch Hosting is a […]