Sometime in the future, when things have gone very pear-shaped, there’s a thriving city in what used to be Brazil. They’re ruled by a queen and the aunties. There’s a king, too; but he dies every year, thanks to a ritual that goes back to the setting up of the settlement and issues around who caused the world’s problems and oh yes there was a plague, too. Plus, there’s life-prolonging treatments so you’re a child, in the ideas of society, for a really long time. And we all know how people respond to the idea of being treated like a child when they think they’re totally adult and ought to be consulted on, like, stuff.
With this as the basis, now add a girl who has parental issues and a deep, deep desire to do something serious – something political – with her art. Things can’t help but get explosive, right? ART. Let’s rock the world with art. Make political statements and confront the authorities and be provocative so they can’t ignore us any more. And if they don’t like it let’s do it some more.
I was somewhat reminded of Osiris, by EJ Swift – just a bit in the post-apocalyptic nature of the world. The issues are different, in that the haves and have-nots are differently conceived, as is the outside world. But it’s still interesting to see visions of the future like this getting explored in different ways.
It’s a fast-paced ride, and very easy to read. Johnson juggles love and sex and sexuality, tradition, art, technology, family relationships, despair and hope and ambition. And right up until the very end I had no idea how Johnson was going to be able to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion – satisfactory for me, that is. And she pulls off something very clever indeed.
This was my first taste of Johnson’s novels. I am fully intending to read more.