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Matthew De Abaitua

Författare till If Then

6+ verk 431 medlemmar 12 recensioner

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Verk av Matthew De Abaitua

If Then (2015) 120 exemplar, 8 recensioner
The Red Men (2007) 100 exemplar, 2 recensioner
The Idler's Companion: An Anthology of Lazy Literature (1997) — Redaktör — 100 exemplar, 1 recension
The Destructives (2016) 72 exemplar
The Art of Camping (2011) 32 exemplar, 1 recension

Associerade verk

Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things (2012) — Bidragsgivare — 57 exemplar, 1 recension
2001: An Odyssey in Words: Celebrating the Centenary of Arthur C. Clarke's Birth (2018) — Bidragsgivare — 54 exemplar, 13 recensioner
Best of British Science Fiction 2018 (2019) — Bidragsgivare — 40 exemplar, 15 recensioner


Allmänna fakta



The premise intrigued me but I quickly got bored and failed to see the point of all this.
SocProf9740 | 7 andra recensioner | Jul 11, 2021 |

After the collapse, the Seizure, when the world went to hell, a small village in England was chosen to live under the Process. A whole community run by a computer program. It would decide what, and who, was necessary. And of course, who was unnecessary. The Process provides for those it calculates as needed, the others are evicted. James is the bailiff. He is the one who dons the armour and physically evicts members of the community.

All who live under the Process have a connection to the Process, a stripe on their skulls where they received their implant. But James has a deeper connection. His implant is more connected, and when he got it they also removed something. He is the physical enforcer, but he does so under the influence of the Process and its calculations and algorithms. He does not choose to act, he must act.

Ruth loves her husband, but his becoming bailiff has changed him. Of course, the whole world has changed for her and for everyone she knows. She lost everything. And before the Process she learned what it was to be powerless, to be a small woman in a society ruled by “might makes right”. She believes in the Process, although she doesn’t always agree with it. The Process is the only way forward. Isn’t it?

I subscribe to Angry Robots mailing list, usually I just give it a quick skim for authors I already know, but the cover of If Then attracted my attention i and the blurb on Net Galley about it sounded interesting

In the near future, after the collapse of society as we know it, one English town survives under the protection of the computer algorithms of the Process, which governs every aspect of their lives. The Process gives and takes; it allocates resources, giving each person exactly what it has calculated they will need. Human life has become totally algorithm-driven, and James, the town bailiff, is charged with making sure the Process’s suggestions are implemented.
But now the Process is making soldiers. It is readying for war — the First World War. Mysteriously, the Process is slowly recreating events that took place over a hundred years ago, and is recruiting the town’s men to fight in an artificial reconstruction of the Dardanelles campaign. James, too, must go fight. And he will discover that the Process has become vastly more sophisticated and terrifying than anyone had believed possible.

And it is a really interesting book. I don’t think it will be to everyone’s taste but if you like science fiction that asks questions about society and humanity and how people relate to one another then I would recommend you give this one a try. I’m not sure if I liked the characters, but after being through the collapse of society maybe we’d all turn a little selfish and pragmatic rather than idealistic.

The World War I aspects to the book are truly horrific, the utter waste of life and how it impacted on those that served as well as the wider society. But the way that efforts to stop war, in all its forms, end up creating even more pointless death and suffering is horrible to contemplate.

As I said, this isn’t a book that will be to everyone’s taste, it is personal and focused on small details, while at the same time addressing the big questions life what does it mean to be human. In a way it is an example of the personal made political, which is something that I really believe. Even if you think this isn’t a book for you, I’d urge you to take a chance on it, it really is a fascinating read.
… (mer)
Fence | 7 andra recensioner | Jan 5, 2021 |
I struggled to finish this. Too much metaphysical mumbo jumbo. I wasn't invested in anay of the characters, none were particularly identifiable. Even the idea of the man against the machine didn't work for me.
Robert3167 | 1 annan recension | May 25, 2020 |
I bought this at the Eastercon last year – actually, I bought this and The Destructives, both signed, chiefly, I seem to recall, on the strength of Nina Allen’s review of this one. Despite that, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I got reminded me a little of Simon Ings and a little of Marcel Theroux, while being entirely its own thing. I don’t recall If Then being discussed much – other than by Allen, of course – but then it’s that sort of sf, like Ings, like Theroux, that the social media genre chatterers don’t seem to read or be interested in searching out. In the near-future, the UK economy has collapsed and bits of the country, including its people, have been sold off to various interests. This may well happen after Brexit. In the town of Lewes (it’s near Brighton, apparently), the inhabitants have been saved by the “Process”, which is some sort of algorithm which orders the activities of the town according to an undivulged rule-set, based on input from the people in the town, all of whom have been given implants. For all that this is supposed to be an optimally efficient way to run a society, everyone lives pretty much in poverty, and whatever their economic output is, they don’t see the benefits. (It’s implied the UK is in such a parlous state their output just about ensures their survival.) The main character is the town’s bailiff, James – he has a more intrusive implant, which he uses to operate the armour, a sort of steampunk mecha. This he uses when he has to evict people that the Process has decided are no longer required in Lewes. The first half of the book “IF”, details the set-up and shows James exploring his role and the whys and wherefores of the Process (qalthough his wife, the local teacher, is more questioning), all triggered by the appearance of a simulacrum, a Process-created copy of a human being, an actual historical human, John Hector, who served as a stretcher bearer non-combatant during World War I. Eventually, James rebels and the role is given to another man. The novel then shifts, in a second section titled, er, “THEN”, to the First World War and Gallipolli. James find himself serving as a stretcher bearer in a squad commanded by Sergeant Hector. Except this isn’t the real Gallipolli campaign, or indeed the real WWI. It’s a vast re-enactment created on the south coast of England, designed to recreate the conditions which resulted in… and this is where things get really interesting, although some research is required to stitch it all together… the creation of an Odd John-like figure (cf Olaf Stapledon), called Omega John, who was John Hector. The real Omega John was created during the real WWI, and eventually invented the Process. But he has decided more like himself are needed, so he has re-enacted the Gallipolli campaign in order to “forge” a new Omega John from the simulacrum Hector. And this is all tied in with the ideas of Noel Huxley, who in the real world committed suicide in 1914 but in the novel served as a padre in Gallipolli, and nurtured Hector and helped his transformation into Omega John… If Then is a novel where it’s hard to tell where it’s going, and that disjoint in the middle as it switches from IF to THEN makes you wonder how de Abaitua is going to stitch it all together… but as the narrative circles back round on itself, and begins throwing out the ideas which underpin its story, it makes the journey there very much worthwhile. It’s a shame science fiction such as this seems to be mostly ignored, as it’s a damn sight more interesting, better written, and much more intellectually challenging than juvenile space operas with over-written prose which over-privileges “feels”. It’s If Then‘s sort of sf which should be appearing on shortlists.… (mer)
iansales | 7 andra recensioner | Sep 18, 2018 |



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