Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Genesis, by Bernard Beckett

An absolutely intense short novel that has left me reeling. I feel like I did when I was fifteen and read No Exit or The Stranger- like I just read ideas, interestingly presented, that will linger and forever tinge the way I think about things. That sounds so overly dramatic (and fifteen!) but really, that was a hell of a little book.
Set in 2075, history student Anax must pass her Examination to perhaps join the Academy, and the novel is basically a transcript of her oral exam. It was so powerful that I don't want to say much more, other than to encourage everyone to read this- it was gripping, thought-provoking, and so well done.
There are so many books that I have read set in dystopian near-futures (and so many others out there every day- we're all scared as hell, aren't we?) that when I started it, I didn't expect, well, this. It was so much more than I could have imagined.
Individuals vs. community, artificial intelligence and rights, natural selection and evolution- all in a heady mix of words, so well written that the whole dizzying experience clocked in at a mere 160 pages.
Echoes of 2001, for sure, and of a movie called Hardware that only I have ever loved, but it was fresh and astonishing.

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