by Kirk Combe
Cover Artist: Claytn Combe
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Mayhaven Publishing, Inc. Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781932278637
Date: 15 December 2009
List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
2084 has good ideas and postulations about how the future will be, but is very difficult to read.
I have a mixed review for 2084. It took me a long time to review, mainly because it is so hard to read. I applaud Kirk Combe for his ideas, but I fail him on delivery.
The plot of the book covers a lot of the good things about the book. It's the year 2084 (duh). A giant corporation runs America, called TexArc. That's certainly a parody on modern life where our congress is so much controlled by lobbies.
Class distinctions are absolute: the Crats, the Terds, and Servs. The Crats are the upper class. The Terds are the tech nerds or the educated middle class. Life for the Servs is just plain bad. Their living quarters are bad. They all work, so the kids run freely through the streets and often get killed. They do not even eat real food. They are equipped with tubes that put a slurry-like food directly into their stomachs.
All citizens are implanted with a headband at age 10 that allows the corporation (a word for government) to contact them and broadcast news and political propaganda. Upper classes have the ability to turn off the feed, but not the Servs. The broadcast has four channels that emit simultaneously, called the ArcNet. The people often get disoriented as receiving all four channels at the same time overloads their senses. Interestingly, one of the four channels is pure porn. Since the headband is implanted when the person is so young and physically grows with the skull, and since an ear implant also provides sound, the person nearly has a sense of touch. That makes the porn channel very interesting.
The Servs are kept in constant debt. Through ArcNet, the Servs are called to work. Each person has a financial account and gets credits. Just as they are about to pay off their debt, they are laid off again. Another parody of the modern society and especially the housing and finical crisis of 2008.
The world has plenty of oil. In one of the world wars of the early 21st century, the Middle East was completely nuked. All the sand turned to glass and the area was renamed Glassea. Global warming has taken over due to numerous nuclear blasts clouding the atmosphere.
Europe is a socialist state and TexArc is interested in taking over Europe. It is not absolutely a done deal, but the Europeans know it is coming, and launch a campaign to break into the ArcNet and inform the Servs about their oppression and launch them to take a stand against the upper classes. The basis of the plot is the efforts of the Europeans trying to hack into the ArcNet and to help the Servs revolt.
The end has an interesting twist, which I enjoyed.
2084 has one big bad point. It is one of the most difficult books that I have ever read. It seems as though it is written in a foreign language. In fact, parts are in foreign languages, primarily German and French. In am conversant in German, so I could follow most of it. The French I could get some of through context. If an average reader could get the German through context, I am not sure. When I got to about the 100-page point, a friend suggested that science fiction books sometimes have a glossary in the back. Well, the glossary helped and I did get better with Combe's vernacular after a while.
The secondary point is that the profanity is out of control. I was in the Navy, so my ears are far from virgin, but this is beyond anything I have ever read. It is amazing how many different words there are to discuss intercourse and genitalia. To Combe's credit, the language of the citizens is progressively worse as the social classes go down and I realize that is intended to be a social statement.
The big question is: Do I believe this prediction of the future? Honestly no. I like Kirk Combe's insights and he shares a lot of the things I do not like about modern society, but I really don't think it will get that bad. In contrast to Orwell's 1984, many of the things Orwell projected have already come to be. The recent Snowden information leaks about NSA privacy rules points a great deal toward Orwell's postulations, but we are not all the way to the constant watching that Orwell postulated. I don't think we will ever get all the way to Combe's or Orwell's projections.
There is a type of SF reader who will enjoy this book. I have read other SF short stories where I had trouble recognizing the language, and I really enjoyed the key points of the 2084. The end of 2084 has a good twist too. I do not, however, think 2084 will appeal to the average reader.
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