28 February 2010

Blind Faith

By Ben Elton
Published by Transworld Publishers
Black Swan edition published 2008

What if everyone in the world behaved as if they were on a reality TV show? Would we have an egocentric culture? What if religious intolerance were thrown in? What if everyone was forced to think as a group and not have an ounce of independent thought?

I hate, hate, HATE this world Ben Elton has created. I suspect that's why he created it - to show us how easy it is to slip into a world where religious fervor is right and non-believers are wrong; where group thought is good and independent thought is bad; where every move is recorded and watched by your neighbours, your co-workers, strangers. There are parts of this book that made my stomach churn, and parts that made me angry, and parts that made me indignant, and parts that made me want to smack some heads together. This book brought on a lot of emotion, but it's a book that made me think, as well. How far are we from actually inhabiting this type of world?

Trafford Sewell is a thinking man in a non-thinking world. Set in the future, the world as we know it has experienced a flood (caused by either global warming or sent by God to rid the world of "Humanists"). Trafford doesn't accept the conditions he is forced to live in - a sweating, half-naked mass of humanity trapped in an over-populated, flooded London, where child mortality is high due to cholera, mumps, and measles (and the fact the Temple dictates that childhood vaccinations are an attempt to undercut God's will). In his attempt to find reason in an unreasonable place, Trafford discovers an existence beyond his expectations, but it's a secret, illegal existence that must be kept from the all-knowing eyes and ears of the Temple.

Elton has produced a story that seems a ridiculous concept, but you find yourself wondering how close we really are to this type of reality. How many of us would take a stand for something we believe in? Would it be easier to just go with the flow? Like I said, Elton makes you question yourself and your beliefs with this novel. I'll be a while yet trying to find the answers.

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