Sunday, 14 October 2012

Book Review: Blue Friday

Blue Friday
Mike French
Published by Elsewhen Press

Mike French's dystopian novel, Blue Friday, is a great mix of humour and sinister 'what if's'. French successfully takes the 'work-life balance' that most of people worry about on a daily basis and takes it to the extreme.

In 2034 society has gone as far as possible with protecting family values. You must be married by the time you are 25 or a marriage will be arranged, you are not allowed to work over time and must finish work at five or they will send agents from the Family Protection Agency to drag you from your desk, which will end in violence. Even the television schedule is family-friendly with repeats of the Generation Game, Bewitched and cheerful sitcoms.

"He probably didn't even watch Bewitched, the little shit."

But Leviticus, Covenant the controlling computer and the Overtime Underground Network help overtime-starved workers to dodge the system and carry on working at their desks. They hack their way through security so workers can avoid heading home to another re-run of The Generation Game. They even hand out drugs to workers who want to work into the long hours of the night. If you have a look at the linked article then you can see that it is already starting to happen over in New York. The future that Mike French has predicted is already starting to happen. The Overtime Underground Network think working 250 hours per week is still not commitment for their organisation!

Modern science-fiction has played a major part in inspiring French. The two agents, Mr Stone and Mr Brittle, who sling out workers who insist at staying at their desk after five, reminded me of the agents from the Matrix. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seems to have been a big influence on French's humour and style, combining light-hearted comedy with the big questions we face in life. There are even a few virtual whales and a bowl of petunias floating around in Blue Friday.

"The Generation Game was on in an hour's time; if she was quick she could make it. She watched it religiously..."

French cleverly weaves Biblical references through Blue Friday. We have a set of characters called Adam and Eve who seem to enjoy living in the virtual world, created by the obsessive computer, Covenant. Reality becomes blurred and sometimes it is hard for the characters to work out if they are in a fantasy or reality. The struggle between humans and computers is quite chilling. The reader sees this with Covenant manipulating Leviticus and eventually manifesting in his psyche. It makes you wonder if the new world that the Overtime Underground Network wants to create would really be paradise? I doubt it.

Blue Friday is currently available as an ebook from Amazon and is published as a paperback during November.

Disclaimer: I know Mike French as he is the Chief for  The View From Here Magazine and sends me books to review for his website. I'm glad he has written a great book and I could write a positive review.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me an electronic version of Blue Friday.

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