Three flying saucers
Fellow blogger Justine Allen has been a frequent visitor here, so I made sure to include some of her work in my latest reading binge. I’m glad I did so; I was reading a long string of stories which didn’t really go anywhere (not bad enough to trash, but not good enough to recommend, just collections of sentences which made forgettable stories), and this work of Justine’s gave me the break I needed. I’m going to try a spoiler-free review; let me know in the comments section if this makes my writing too vague.
I started to call this story dystopian, but then I realized that for some people, the world it presents would be utopian. This led me to think quite a bit about how many people you could actually have in a utopia before it was no longer a utopia for some. My vision of utopia has even changed over my lifetime. When I was younger, I wanted to be constantly mobile, exploring the world and having adventures. Now that I’ve done that, I want the Leave It to Beaver life. Okay, I can’t actually remember the TV show, but I want the stereotype it represents, which would have been a stagnant prison to my younger self.
One of the intriguing things about the dys-utopia in Adam is that most of the people there entered voluntarily, which isn’t how people typically end up in a dystopia. I really liked how many of the residents of the society were pressured to enter it in the name of resource scarcity. Although I don’t think the form of pressure was specified, I can imagine all kinds of possibilities: peer pressure, government taxes/penalties, forgiveness of crimes…
Adam, the title character, entered the dys-utopia in a different manner than most of its inhabitants; the story doesn’t specify whether he was the only one to enter in this manner, or simply the last. To me, he didn’t play a large enough role in the story; I would have liked to see him develop enhanced abilities due to his method of entry, or to have a grudge against the society and be responsible for its downfall.
This story was written for a competition with a low word-count limit, and I would like to see it rewritten as a longer work, possibly even a novella or novel. The ending has some intriguing twists and turns, which are told to the reader rather than “shown” through character experiences or dialogue. I think the telling format was inevitable; any other way of expressing the concepts would have increased the word count immensely. Ultimately, I was surprised to get several thought-provoking ideas from the same story; I never felt like I wasted my 99 cents.