Monday 21 February 2022

Post on a mild, sunny Monday afternoon

Good afternoon and Happy Family Day!!  I hope you are all enjoying this lovely afternoon and the extra day off to spend time with your family or just spend some well-deserved time on your own.  I’ve certainly earned my steaming cup of chai this afternoon, as it’s been a busy day so far.

I read a really interesting novel by Canadian writer Victoria Hetherington.  Autonomy,the second novel by this author, is set mainly in 2037 in the American Protectorate of Canada and is told from the point of view of Slaton, a therapist working at a university who is framed for helping a student obtain an illegal abortion.  Rather than serving jail time, she is enrolled in a program to help train Julian, a synthetic consciousness, or AI, that “woke up” two years earlier and is being utilized as an interviewer at the border.  Accessed through an implanted earpiece, he manages to stay with Slaton when she is released and helps her navigate an ever-changing world of chaos and destruction. The environment is collapsing, Slaton loses her job and is running out of money, and her long-time on-and-off boyfriend Crawford, for whom she pines, is in a long-term relationship with someone else.  Julian gives her useful, and very specific, advice to help her meet someone who will be able to carry her through the foreseeable future, but rather than being saved, once the novelty wears off, she finds herself questioning her role in the chaos that surrounds her.  Oh, and there’s a mysterious “Illness” that is spreading throughout the world, but some are in denial, convinced that, with enough money, they can buy their own safety, or at least secure an escape route.  Will Slaton find a way to save others as well as saving herself and those she loves?  And what role will Julian play in this quest?  This was a fantastic book!  I was riveted from the very first page and just couldn’t put it down until the very end.  Imagine Hal from “2001:  a space odyssey” in a dystopian society where everything is in various states of destruction:  imagine Atwood’s collapsing society in pre-Gilead days.  Hetherington’s writing reminded this reader of Atwood in more ways than just setting; like Atwood, Hetherington's writing could be sharp and concise, dryly witty, satirical, bleak, philosophical and thought-provoking all at the same time.  There were so many brilliant turns of phrases that I lost count, but this made me determined to purchase my own copy of this amazing novel.  It was at once a social criticism, an environmental warning and a love story for the end of the world.  WOW, I know I’m not doing it justice, but I would say that if you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale or “2001:  a space odyssey” or other grim dystopian novels, I would definitely recommend this book.  Run, don’t walk, to your local public library to put in your request!

That’s all for today.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this long weekend, whatever you do.  Oh, and Happy Freedom to Read Week!  After I finish the latest book in the "Rockton" series by Kelley Armstrong, I’m planning to read a challenged book, which I will tell you about next week.  And I’m using my Banned Books mug, too!

Bye for now... Julie

Oh, I just remembered the other book Autonomy brought to mind, one of my favourite eco-disaster novels, The Rapture by Liz Jensen, except instead of a psychotic teen that sees the future, it's a body-less AI, which makes this novel even more excellent!!

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