The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

Is there a sub-genre of dystopian fiction called ‘it-could-happen-within-a-decade-dsytopian-and-that’s-why-it’s-terrifying’? If so, it’s my favourite sub-genre. And we can file The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall there.

Without revealing too much of the story, it’s about a woman named Mim, whose husband Ben is missing. Everyone wants to find Ben, particularly The Department (the all-seeing government body who has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip in the palm of their hand to keep them ‘safe’). When Ben can’t be tracked, Mim is questioned; made to surrender her passport and those of their children, Essie and Sam; and is threatened with being taken into ‘care’ at the notorious BestLife (which is essentially a branded detention centre). Mim goes on a risky quest to find Ben. Continue reading

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan sure does have the corner on the middle-class-white-men-having-existential-crises market, doesn’t he?

In Machines Like Me, McEwan conjures a world not quite like the one we know. It’s the eighties in Britain – the Falklands War has been lost, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Continue reading

An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

This book is bananas.

I didn’t ‘like’ it but it’s hard not to be impressed by something that is so incredibly creative and thought-provoking.

But before I go on, it should be noted that Krissy Kneen’s An Uncertain Grace comes with a big bunch of trigger warnings (rape, sex crimes against children, treatment of paedophiles). Continue reading

‘Black Box’ by Jennifer Egan

Did you follow Black Box by Jennifer Egan on Twitter?

The short story was serialised over the span of ten nights (ending this morning) and was delivered via The New Yorker’s NYerFiction Twitter account. One tweet was posted per minute over one hour each day (it was between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m in the US which meant mid-morning for Aussies).

It was my first Twitter-fiction experience. I’ve since discovered that there are other twitter authors out there doing a similar thing although none with the status of Pulitzer-Prize-winning Egan.

Black Box was billed as a spy’s mission log, with each tweet representing an entry into the log. The language quickly clued the reader into the fact that it was very much a science-fiction spy story (references to other spies as ‘beauties’, the surveillance targets as ‘Designated Mates’ and ‘Dissociation Techniques’). I was hooked from the very first tweet –

Continue reading

‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

There are a million reviews of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and you’d have to be living under a rock to have avoided hearing about the movie, which is out now.

It’s the story of sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the fictional country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, holds absolute power over the rest of the nation, which is divided into twelve districts. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each district are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. The ‘winner’ secures glory and food for their district.

I found The Hunger Games compelling reading but in addition, it got me thinking – not so much about the book itself but about the ‘genre’ that it has been put in. I saw the movie trailer for The Hunger Games when I was at Breaking Dawn* in November 2011 (no, I’m not a Twi-hard but I can answer the question “Are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob?”). I hadn’t heard of The Hunger Games at that point but later downloaded the book onto my Kindle (it’s always book first, movie second for me). Continue reading