It’s 2050. The Order of World Society controls civilisation by chipping and tracking the privileged via a system called KATE (Kinetic Advanced Transitional Emissions). Those that are not chipped are mysteriously “disposed of”. The secretive Order oversees the movements and activities of society, predicting what people will buy, what they will want to watch, and where they will be at all times. They even control the weather. Nothing is left to chance.
Gayle Conyers, a mother of twin girls, is happy in this world. She lives in a content, predictable neighbourhood and is a successful scientist researching a mutation of the HIV virus. When she sees a debate between Dr. Armstrong, a renown agnostic scientist and Dr. Kingsley, who believes that the end of the world is coming, her world starts to change. Dr. Armstrong, who claims to be able to perform brain transplants, forces her to work on a secret project that goes against The Order and her beliefs. Meanwhile, a protestor named Michael warns her that her work is helping to bring about the apocalypse. Gayle, unsure of who to believe, is caught between the realms of science and religion.
The novella presents a dystopian worldview not unlike many others in the genre, most notably George Orwell’s 1984. One element of the genre that is very pertinent in our world today is Gayle’s distrust of authority figures. We, along with Gayle, are never quite sure of who is telling the truth or who to trust. And those in authority are equally portrayed as being untrustworthy. The story connects with our contemporary mistrust of everything we hear, especially from authority figures and in the media in the era of supposed “fake news”. Gayle hears conflicting accounts from Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Kingsley, and Michael about the true intentions and lasting consequences of The Order.
What becomes apparent very early on in the book is that, despite Gayle’s success, she is often portrayed as a pawn in the science/religion debate, both of which are dominated by male figures. Thus, the novella’s reliance on male characters, all of whom are portrayed as authority figures, is problematic. Her strength is demonstrated by her skepticism towards claims made by both sides but she is ultimately portrayed as a passive spectator who is forced to go against her own morals. These morals and beliefs are told through a narrative voice that is unusually objective and almost scientific. This is understandable as the story is focalised through a scientist but it feels cold and disconnected and as a result, I was never fully convinced by Gayle’s objections to either side.
Although any apocalyptic scenario will undoubtedly involve some level of religious debate, I wasn’t quite prepared for how detailed the religious passages in the novella would be. Although it appears to be a work of sci-fi, and is advertised as such, it is ultimately a debate about the relationship between science and religion. I must admit that I often found myself skipping over paragraphs of religious text, which lead me to wish that the book had been more clearly indicated at a religious work. However, if you are familiar with the Bible, you will certainly be more engaged in these passages than I was. Nevertheless, the novella does prompt debate about the state of the world and how closely our every click and movement is watched and followed. It serves as a stark warning of what might come in the future if we aren’t careful to guard our autonomy.
About the author
Nesly Clerge received his bachelor’s degree in physiology and neurobiology at the University of Maryland, and later pursued a doctoral degree in the field of chiropractic medicine. Although his background is primarily science-based, he has finally embraced his lifelong passion for writing. Clerge’s debut novel, When the Serpent Bites, is available, as well as the second book in The Starks Trilogy, When the Dragon Roars. The trilogy books explore choices, consequences, and the complexities of human emotions, especially when we are placed in a less-than-desirable setting. When he is not writing, Clerge manages several multidisciplinary clinics. He enjoys reading, chess, traveling, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with his significant other and his sons. For more information regarding his books, visit clergebooks.com.