2084 edited by George Sandison, Unsung Stories, UK p/b £9.99 (UK) 317 pages, ISBN: 978-1-907-38950-4, www.unsungstories.co.uk
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan
I am always curious as to why people do not own up to their writing, especially when it is of good quality. The success of an anthology is ultimately down to the editor. He or she has to select the stories, ensuring they have variety and quality, edit, proof-read and decide on order and layout. It is a time-consuming job but rewarding. The creator of the finished product deserves as much praise as the other contributors. It is a shame when finding the editor of an anthology is like finding a needle in a haystack. GEORGE SANDISON, you need to stand up and take a bow. In producing 2084 you have done a fine job.
The brief for the contributors was to extrapolate current trends and concerns into the future. One of the functions of SF has always been to deliver the ‘dire warning’. Orwell in 1984 wasn’t writing SF, he was saying that this is what could happen if we continue on our present course. These stories do the same. The line-up is spectacular including well-respected authors such as Christopher Priest, Dave Hutchinson, Jeff Noon and Lavie Tidhar alongside lesser-known names.
Whatever our feeling about the plight of refugees, there comes a time when resources need to be rationed. In ‘Babylon’ Dave Hutchinson foresees a time when Europe has become a fortress, the no vacancies sign is up, but there are always migrants ready to risk the journey. Here they are aided by nano-tech. With climate change comes rising sea-levels. Desirina Boskovich gives a snapshot of life in a crumbling city in ‘Here Comes The Flood’ There is also a concern with Displaced Persons trying to invade the city and with the problems of population control. Here, children are valued. This isn’t the case in the post-apocalyptic world postulated by Ian Hocking in ‘Fly Away, Peter’
Imagine democracy in action. A referendum every week that will affect your life style, and the unemployed are on a universal wage. This is the future imagined by Anne Charnock in ‘A Good Citizen’, while Cassandra Khaw sees a future of detailed surveillance in ‘Degrees Of Elision’. J.P.Smythe’s surveillance system in ‘The Infinite Eye’ is much more sinister as humans are hooked up to become the electronic watchers. Social media has a lot to answer for if the future of Malcolm Devlin’s ‘March, April, May’ is to become reality. Currently 3D printers are infancy but how far will the technology develop. Lavie Tidhar has one suggestion in ‘2084 Satoshi AD’.
For me, the most disturbing story is ‘The Endling Market’ by E.J.Smith. The very rich, here, are prepared vast sums for bits of the last of a species in a world where most wild animals have been exterminated or driven to the brink. These are the same kind of people as in ‘Glitterati’ by Oliver Langmead in which being in fashion is all that matters.
Jeff Noon takes a technological jump as his focus in ‘Room 149’, imagining the possibility of criminals being reduced to electronic form for their sentence stored aboard a satellite whereas Courttia Newland takes it a step further in ‘Percepi’ as postulates the rise of the robots. Irenosen Okojie’s bleak world of isolated homestead’s fostering manufactured children in ‘Saudade Minus One (S-I=)’suggests something apocalyptic between now and then.
While most of these stories suggests a bleak future, ‘Uniquo’ allows the youth of the future some fun. In her story, Aliya Whitely has created the ultimate theme park ride. And for the entertainment of the masses, but not the participants, Christopher Priest finishes this volume ‘Shooting An Episode’ of the ultimate reality show.
This is an excellent volume and George should be proud of what he and his contributors have achieved.