by J. Gates
To be released, October 1, 2012.
May Fields never doubts that The Company is good. Thousands of Company employees have risen from poverty’s clutches, millions have embraced Christ, and innovation continues to create newer and better products for humanity. Proudly, she is part of the mechanics of The Company that makes such prosperity happen. But why then, does May long for something more? May isn’t sure--that is until she is kidnapped by an organization that wants more—but does she want what they are offering?
The narrator of the novel and protagonist, May, is very difficult to identify with. She is jaded, empty— and in case the constant reminders in the text don’t help you to remember—homosexual. Yet, her vapid nature and her vacillating values are reflective of the culture that she lives in—she is less heroine and more caricature, and her homosexuality opens the door to addressing sexuality in the eyes of the Christian church; so, in a clumsy way, her character works, so long as the reader remains open to the idea that the plot of the novel is more theme-driven than character-driven. “God, science and company policy” are intertwined in this novel, which can be somewhat jolting, especially when the narrative touches on so many issues, albeit timely ones, relevant to readers. Whereas individual problems with society have been addressed by numerous authors before, such as implanted net-links and consumerism (M.T. Anderson, Feed), the decline of literacy (Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451), discrimination (Shine by Lauren Myracle for one), and Big Brother government (1984, George Orwell), no other novel has combined all of these issues with the corruptive nature of a prosperity-based theology and tossed in gay rights to boot; perhaps such all-encompassing commentary is a bit overwhelming.
However, there is much to be admired in this work. Without a doubt, Gates nails the dystopian genre, and uses current trends to predict the direction the globe might be heading. Standing apart, each issue seems slightly disturbing, but mixed together in an ever-simmering mixture of reality stew it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to anticipate that our world pot might soon boil over. After all, aren’t larger corporations gobbling up smaller businesses? Aren’t some Christian religions now touting prosperity and blessings as the earthly benefit of being a follower? Don’t our youth (and adults) crave the next latest “thing” that is quickly trumped by the next, slightly-improved gadget? Aren’t the same companies that finance us, also producing the gadgets that we slave to obtain? Aren’t politics and religion, slowly merging their lines into a muddled picture, with liberals being accused of secularism and conservatives holding the keys to the kingdom?” How much farther then until church and state become married? Thus, is it really much of a stretch to see a world where The Company displaces government? One where Company “bystanders” allow those who have acquired too much debt to be sent off to Company work camps? Or a world where “…experts agree that debtor-workers across the globe stand to benefit greatly from what’s being called the final consolidation” (and hasn't this sort of happened before)?
Yet, despite a few quirks, this intricate weaving of apparent flaws becomes its own clever style of “propaganda”—one that might achieve the writer’s purpose—a “call to awareness” that all people should stand up and take notice of.