Everything Belongs to the Future

February 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

futureEverything Belongs to the Future by Laurie Penny

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Damn. Just … damn. What a powerful piece of fiction.

I’ve said before that any science fiction story is a product of the time in which it’s written, not just in the way people think, but in the way technology is used. Look back at Star Wars or Aliens and see what passed for futuristic computer screens at the time; already, in 2017, we have computers that project better graphics than that. Even Asimov’s Foundation series still relied heavily on the use of paper in the stories. We’re limited to presenting a future based on our present, so as a result, the stories can look dated years later.

By the same token, good science fiction has to be a product of its time, because it looks at the future consequences of our current society. Everything Belongs to the Future does just that, looking at economic divides, capitalism run rampant, and the roles of men and woman in society. It’s reminiscent of Drew Magary’s The Postmortal, in that it examines life when aging has been cured, but it addresses different issues in a different style.

The story is told on the cusp of the 22nd Century, about 100 years after a scientist developed a pill that would prevent aging, so long as it were taken every day. Pharmaceutical companies quickly took hold of the drug and charged ridiculous amounts of money for them, quickly creating a further divide among the upper and lower classes. Now, instead of keeping money from the lower class, the upper class keeps time from them, as well.

At times, the novella reads like nonfiction, but that’s only because the author has a lot to say. That it’s told well, with provocative characters and lyrical prose, makes it that much more effective. Penny populates the story with a motley crew of characters, including a trans character, a 98-year-old woman in a 14-year-old body, and an undercover spy who keeps his cover by having a relationship with a woman who is a part of the rebels. These characters aren’t there just because she thinks it’s cool; they’re included because each of them reveal a piece of our society now and how we fail individuals by maintaining these constructs. I found out after reading this novella that the author is a feminist writer; having finished it, I’m not surprised.

The story isn’t perfect, but it will make you think about our current state of society. That alone elevates the novella from four to five stars, and makes this book the best thing I’ve read so far this year. Here’s to hoping that Penny continues to write fiction, because she’s a powerful writer.

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