Description - Genesis by Bernard Beckett
What is it to be human? What is consciousness? What makes a soul? 2075. Change brought fear and fear brought destruction. The island-state of the Republic had risen up from the destroyed world: isolated, ordered and repressive. Its citizens are alive, but not free. What remains of the outside world is kept at bay. Planes are gunned down; refugees shot on sight. Until a man named Adam Forde rescues a girl from the sea. Forde is long-dead when Anaximander faces the Examiners. Her aim: to join the philosopher's class at The Academy. Her topic: Forde's challenge to the Republic. Anaximander feels a connection to Forde, one that she can't explain, one that she doesn't yet know is dangerous. Genesis is an extraordinary book, a philosophical novel that asks all the big questions about who we are, what it means to think and what it is to be human.
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Book Reviews - Genesis by Bernard Beckett
US Kirkus Review »
Dystopian vision of a future Earth almost wholly engulfed by environmental catastrophe.New Zealand author Beckett's slim first novel is a curious mix of science fiction, Platonic dialogue and An Inconvenient Truth. The story is framed around the four-hour oral examination of Anaximander (aka Anax), a female student who hopes to enter the Academy, home to the elite of what is now a rigidly stratified society. By the 2050s, we learn early on, the planet was overwhelmed by war, terrorism and global dust storms, prompting an entrepreneur named Plato to create an island haven in the Southern Hemisphere protected by a Great Sea Fence. Interlopers attempting to enter were killed on sight for fear of an invading plague, and Anax's exam focuses on a case of a crack in the system. Adam Forde was a soldier who in 2075 spotted a girl in a boat approaching the barrier and held his fire. Beckett relates this back story in question-and-answer format, with Anax responding to her three examiners. He avoids the danger of an overly talky narrative, however, by incorporating movielike holograms into Anax's examination, which work to illustrate key moments in Forde's life. This enables the author to add some descriptive passages to ease the rigors of the novel's more philosophical second half, focusing on the interactions between the imprisoned Forde and Art, a robot empowered with high-end artificial-intelligence technology. Art is so empowered, in fact, that he's a little smug about it - he routinely argues for his superiority over mortal, emotional humans. The book is clearly making a statement about the consequences of environmental neglect. Indeed, Beckett is stronger with philosophical fare than with plotting - the book's final twist is old hat. But he's earned the right to deploy a pulp-sci-fi cliche or two - his conception of a broken world and the role technology plays in it is convincing.A cannily constructed portrait of a global worst-case scenario. (Kirkus Reviews)
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