Monday, June 18, 2007

Blue polytunnels, violet eyes: Lesley Howarth, Ultraviolet. Penguin: London, 2001.

In most ways an awfully good book. Violet lives in an underground compound protected from the worsening ozone levels by super-blue plastic invented by the company her father works for--is one of the chief scientists for. Most of the novel is about her every day life with her friends, unable to go out without risking their "rad count" and with it their acess to life's necessities. The way in which "advice" can turn into law and enforced compliance is very well played out, and particularly convincing are the friendships as each teen chafes in their own way about the restrictions. Much of the time they spend absorbed in a cypergame and part of the novel is about the ways in which that both is, and isn't satisfactory. I was particularly impressed by the writing itself which is simultaneously sparse and playful: the dialogue, more than anything else, gives the impression of people exhausted by heat.

What I should have remembered is that while Lesley Howarth is responsible for the brilliant Maphead (1994, alien father and son on earth looking for son's human mother, drink a cat milkshake while they wait for something to happen) she is also responsible for Mister Spaceman (1999), a metaphor book. So I regret to say that at the end of this rather splendid construction of a plausible future, it all turns out to be a cyberspace game.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Farah, this is much more complicated than that, and a brilliant attempt at "writing" a computer game. Deserves more credit I think.

9:21 AM  

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