Thursday, September 06, 2007

Government Work: Rash by Pete Hautman (Simon & Schuster: New York, 2006).

I should have blogged this one ages ago but I left my copy on the bus when I was barely half way through.

Bo has grown up in the United Safer States of America. He runs in pads, and has therapy for his temper. When he loses it one too many times (and triggers a psychosomatic rash among his classmates) he finds himself making pizza for McDonalds in a forced labour factory in Alaska. The only escape is the football team, until his liberty is regained by the AI he accidentally created for a school project. There are two things going on in this book: the first is an argument about over-protection and feminising society. Fortunately it's ambivalent. B's temper is never regarded by anyone, incudling himself as a good thing. The response is linked ot the second argument where it becomes convenient to the government to describe more and more things as a crime, so that free labour is displaced by convict labour until it makes more sense for Bo's father to "voluntarily commit" since at least he will get paid, and there is a 99% recividism rate for all convicts.

I like this one: the story is clearly "a sliver from the world". The protagonist is not terribly important, his is just one story among many.


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