cover image The Machine Society: Rich or Poor, They Want You to Be a Prisoner

The Machine Society: Rich or Poor, They Want You to Be a Prisoner

Mike Brooks. Cosmic Egg, $16.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-78535-252-2

Brooks’s dystopia combines echoes of Orwell and Huxley with present-day concerns about capitalism and technology, but never quite pulls its various components together. Ex-academic Dean Rogers struggles to negotiate the stratified post­apocalyptic city of New London. After a perilous incident at his dead-end job, Rogers is plucked from the dismal slums of the city’s Perimeter district, given a makeover, and ensconced in the luxurious enclave of the Better Life Complex, where each citizen is a walking advertisement for a corporate sponsor and all edibles are packed with “healthy” additives. As he learns more about the secrets of the Complex, he endangers himself and those around him, and soon he must either escape or die. Brooks’s novel includes some clever satirical details, but they are not particularly subtle, and the occasional excerpts from the invented philosophical work The Machine Society by a Lenin-esque Erich Vinty read like undergraduate polemics. The plotting and characterizations are strictly rote, and the ending is unconvincingly upbeat. (Nov.)