Anne Charnock‘s first novel A Calculated Life (47North) is one of seven nominated works for the Philip K. Dick Award 2013. It was originally self-published. Anne’s journalism has appeared in The Guardian, New Scientist, International Herald Tribune, and Geographical. She was educated at the University of East Anglia, where she studied environmental sciences, and at the Manchester School of Art. She travelled widely as a freelance foreign correspondent and spent a year overlanding through Egypt, Sudan and Kenya. In her fine art practice, she tried to answer the questions, What is it to be human? What is it to be a machine? Ultimately she decided to write fiction as another route to finding answers.

Dystopian Influences on the Philip K. Dick Nominated A CALCULATED LIFE

by Anne Charnock

Among the books I’ve read and films I’ve watched, I can pinpoint one dystopian encounter that set the course for much of my reading and writing life. I guess I was around 10 years old when I watched the film animation of George Orwell’s satirical story, Animal Farm. I doubt I knew the word ‘satire’ at the time but my child’s mind recognised this film as a story about bullying. And I was terrified!
Read the rest of this entry

BOOK REVIEW: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

REVIEW SUMMARY: Important to the dystopian genre, but a difficult and often boring read.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The diary of a member of the OneState who begins to question his life and the virtues of the state, due to the attention of a rebellious woman.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: interesting ideas, historical significance
CONS: unsympathetic characters, disjointed narrative, scarce descriptions
BOTTOM LINE: Many of the themes and plot points used in We are also used in the more readable – and more famous – 1984.

D-503, builder of the INTEGRAL, the space ship that will bring the OneState to the stars, starts this missive with the intent of including it in the propaganda transported by the ship. But his treatise on the virtues of the OneState gets hijacked when the mysterious I-330 crosses his path. Suddenly his writing is more about dreams and hopes than the realities of life and the happiness brought by a lack of freedom.

Read the rest of this entry

REVIEW: The Unincorporated Man by Dani and Eytan Kollin

REVIEW SUMMARY: Heavy on the world building, this dystopian novel is unique.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Three hundred years after being put into cryogenic freezing, a man is awakened into a world where humans have become incorporated, buying and selling pieces of themselves, and others.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fully realized dystopian world, thought provoking, interesting characters
CONS: Problematic decisions by characters, black & white thinking
BOTTOM LINE: A slow read but a thought provoking one.
Read the rest of this entry

In episode 156 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester gathers a group of SF Signal folks to discuss: Are optimistic SF stories gone forever?

We’ve discussed this before, but, I still wonder – with so much dystopian and apocalyptic future sf out there, is the idea of a positive future gone forever? Is this just a trend? Will we see the cycle come back around to positive futures again? Soon?

Read the rest of this entry

New Author Spotlight: Hillary Jordan

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today’s spotlight shines on Hillary Jordan!

Her books are:

  • Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (Harpercollins Canada)
  • When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (Harper Collins Canada)

Read the rest of this entry