Dystopias

He She ItI’ve been thinking about how this pandemic and the experience of social isolation may change the kinds of lives we live. If people become used to obtaining more things online, including their food, the retail and restaurant worlds we’ve known may not recover. If the virus is with us for a year or so, until a vaccine is available, then the habits we’ve developed will be hard to change. High unemployment numbers may persist; income inequality will deepen. How will people react to that? What will our lives be like?

So I’ve been thinking about dystopian fiction, particularly about the novel He, She and It by Marge Piercy. Piercy’s heroine, Shira, lives in a future world where “multis” (read multinational corporations) are the governments we live under. If you don’t work for a “multi” in an urban area where your life is controlled by your employer, then you’re an outlaw. When Shira steps out of line, she loses custody of her son to her ex-husband. He hints that he may move to another planet and Shira becomes panic-stricken. She makes her way from her “multi” to the free town of Tikvah where her grandmother,  Malkah, lives with a group of brilliant rogue programmers. There, Shira hopes to devise a plan to retrieve her son.

That’s the barest of outlines. The novel is full of interesting characters and fascinating technology, some of which you’ll be sorry not to share. The alternating chapters contain the story of the golem, the mud-and-clay creature from Jewish legend who was created as a savior for the Jews in dark times. The two stories resonate against each other in very interesting ways and of course, they resonate with a third story, the narrative of our current lives. I don’t read science fiction too often, but He, She and It is special. It would be a great immersive read now.

 

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