- 21 Apr 20
It is the year 2116 and the patriarchy has fallen, Women rule, “Corpos” are a way of life and the Chinese have taken over, with the philosophy of Confucianism having been raised to near-religious status. The Reunited States of America is a wasteland, rent by rebellion. Could we extrapolate America’s fall in a world ruled by the cold and implacable logic of numbers from the current anti-science movement? Perhaps we shouldn’t get carried away.
Men are now either submissive house husbands or annoying boys like Li, a Carlow lad, in case the name didn’t give it away, and ostensibly the hero of Dwyer’s novel. Li uses drugs to escape his every-day life – he’s a tele-sales worker, so you can hardly blame him - cannot keep it in his pants, and panics at even the rumour of trouble. Frankly, he’s more than a bit annoying. A much better bet is the stronger character of Tattoo/Daisy, although, to be fair to Li, he does show slight signs of spine development as the novel progresses.
The seemingly well-off Ireland, or “Ireland-corpo” of the future is well rendered – it’s good to know that “Grafton” is still there and it hasn’t, thankfully, been renamed “Grafton Quarter” although Athlone suffers a particularly unfortunate fate. The action hops from Carlow to Manchester to Seattle as we start to discover what’s really going on under the Corpos.
Dwyer has said that the ideas behind the social scene in the book and the reversal of sexual roles came from conversations with his son about the dating scene in London. He also points out that by basing his novel in the future, he can get away with poking a stick at our own society, which is fair enough, although citing Jonathan Swift, Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell as inspirations might be unwise as most authors’ work – including this one - pale in comparison.
Dwyer’s imagining of a matriarchal society, Asian dominance, and the plot in general, are not perhaps then the most original of concepts, but it’s diverting enough fare, and Irish Sci-fi is a genre worthy of encouragement.