Tomorrow’s World by Guy Portman

Published: 22nd November 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self-Published
Pages: 220
Format: Ebook
Genre: Science Fiction
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

The future’s here and it’s great. You can live for a very long time, you can experience the dream in virtual reality, and you can even worship David Hasselhoff. But not everyone is feeling fulfilled …

With the relentlessly increasing mandatory retirement age, Terrence can see no end to his life of drudgery. And then there are the compensation claim drones …

On the other side of the pond, Walter is faring far better. With the assistance of age-defying medication, the kung fu hyper-capitalist plans to prosper indefinitely. However, there are plenty of people who want to see him fail.

Will these two contrasting characters thrive in a future that’s changing forever? Or even survive? And what about the rest of us?

If you like dark humour and scathing satire, then you will relish experiencing tomorrow’s outlandish world through the eyes of its colourful cast of characters.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author for review.

I read the forward before starting because I thought it would be a good preparation for this story and I was right. The unique format and the short story/chapter style certainly needed some context beyond the blurb.

It didn’t take long to get into the flow of this futuristic world. Initially you can see a semblance to our own society, albeit in the near future, but before long it descends into a strange future where the issues of today are heightened and reflected back on us with strange new technologies and obsessions at the forefront.

The format and writing style is a clever choice and one that works especially well for this kind of story. The short snippets and chapters focus on key characters but also random, often unnamed characters and scenes offering up a rounded view of the wider world and society. Portman also cleverly circles back as we see a few reoccurring lesser characters throughout the timeline.

At times I felt that it was perhaps too long, but I understand that in following Terrance’s life it needed to be long. I enjoyed the satire and the reflection of the society, the only issue is around the halfway mark I felt it had run its course and I was growing tired of a few characters but thankfully it picked up again. One thing that kept me going was the things happening away from the main characters; I enjoyed the subtle reflections of the changing society and the snippets of life from these brief chapters and scenes.

The short chapters are certainly a benefit and the jumps in time allow a lot more narrative to be covered, especially with a plot like this. Terrence’s story is woven throughout alongside these reoccurring and one off characters and an overview of how society is progressing further into the late 21st century and 22nd century.

The story has three main parts, starting with the everyday before coming to the revolution then the inevitable rise of the machines. While not a complete overhaul, there is a demonstration of what the world would look like if everything was automated and the impact that has one humanity and society.

The language is an odd balance of satire and mockery, definitely dark humour. I liked the sardonic tone and the frustration of Terrance in his life, each key character had a definitive voice and there is a lot of humour and reflection that is recognisable in today’s society. One thing I noted was that while the narrative is meant to be inclusive of all genders, sexualities, and religions, there are multiple cases of trans people being referred to as “he/she” which satire or not, sat weirdly with me.

I enjoyed the far future world we see at the end, especially seeing teenagers trying to understand the old world in comparison to their current one was humorous. The impact of virtual reality and other advancements means they’ve ended up in a slightly Wall-E-esque world minus the spaceship.

If science fiction and dark humour are your thing then this will certainly be enjoyable. It is bizarre but there is a charm to it as well. There is a lot to take from it and a lot of little gems to enjoy.

You can purchase Tomorrow’s World via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Solomon Twist by Dan Hammond Jr.

Published: 17th February  2015 Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Solomon Texas Press
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction/Satire
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Twin sons of different fathers?

Sure, the chances are slim and none. But to Mazel McDonald, it sounds like a good idea at the time.

In the west Texas town of Solomon in 1965, Mazel doesn’t have many options being unwed, pregnant, and unemployed–due to being unwed and pregnant. When she finds herself in early labor with two men laying claim to the title of father, an unexpected situation arises. Mazel discovers she is having twins.

Jump to 1991 when Mazel’s husband, known as Daddy Two, is found dead in their living room. Who shot Daddy Two? That question acts as a loose backdrop throughout the novel as suspects come to the forefront. But deeper questions of identity, reunion, and recovery gain traction, transforming the story into one of self-realization and redemption.

Combining humor, exuberance, and an incisive poignancy, THE SOLOMON TWIST is packed with characters who are insightful, clueless, sensitive, and cynical. With two mysteries unsolved until the final pages, Hammond masterfully weaves a tale that leaves readers both satisfied and not wanting to leave the people of Solomon, Texas.

Who killed Daddy Two? The more important question becomes: who’s your Daddy?

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

Following a strange series of events, this story follows Mazel, her boys, and the town of Solomon from the 1960s to the early 1990s. There is no gradual progression through the decades, from introductions and scene setting in the 1960s the story jumps to the 1990s where the main narrative kicks off. I quite liked that this story was different and unconventional. The whodunit aspect was there and there were other mysteries to solve all wrapped up in this strange town with strange people, but Hammond uses this unusualness to his advantage and it works rather well.

The town of Solomon is filled with a range of people who are strange in their own way. Each character is unique and likable, even with their peculiarities and misguided moral compasses. There are a few characters to keep track of but they each fill their role and fall into place easily enough. Some characters also get more attention and depth than others but it’s not a real problem, Hammond writes it so it’s easy to gain an understanding of who these characters are and sometimes the little that is given is more than enough.

With every character their own version of peculiar, Mazel is no different. She is a sweet woman, a bit odd, but given how her life has turned out it isn’t surprising. She is kind of vague, not absentminded or dreamy so much as just there, participating and doing her job. There are moments when she is alert and involved, and it is moments like this where Hammond uses characters and situations well, demonstrating moments of freedom and release in who they are depending on their circumstances. Hammond also addresses these moments in character which give it another level, seeing Mazel analyse herself is great because it works in two parts, for her and for the reader. To credit Mazel though, she is not as daft as she appears, noticing things around her and making negotiations for the security of her boys. It’s these little moments that made her interesting and perplexing, she is difficult to pin down.

These strange characters and the odd way they live their lives are what make this novel. The interactions and connections between everyone also makes this work because it becomes a mixture of everyone’s lives, intentions, and self-interests, with this apparent murder to solve on top of that while still keeping everyone’s arrangements in place. Deals are made, situations are bargained, and everyone is in it for themselves.

I love how Hammond has constructed this and put this story together because it doesn’t go where you expect and yet it is oddly fascinating at the same time. Even with the death of Mazel’s husband looming in the background and suspects being questioned, it becomes second to the wants and interests of others, and a whole other story emerges.

The conclusion is where Hammond’s true skills shine. There is a moment when you think you are going to finish the book unsatisfied but suddenly everything comes together, things happen and pieces fall into place that provide a turning point not just for the story but for the characters as well, all the while maintaining the little eccentricities that have been present from the start.

This will certainly not disappoint as a whodunit, albeit in an unconventional manner, and the mysteries of fathers, and all the other quirkiness that goes on in Solomon makes this a read that is much more than it appears.

You can purchase The Solomon Twist via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aust