X or Y? Utopia or dystopia? In a world in which death has become a thing of the past, the answer may well depend on X or Y.
The attempt to portray what kind of form human society could possibly take in the future has long been one of the staples of science fiction, but in spite of that fact in Laira Clea Saal has managed to come up with a surprisingly fresh take on that particular subject.
That there is something unique about this book becomes apparent from the moment the reader hits the Table of Contents, and the attention to detail that has gone into crafting a world that, while significantly different from our own, comes across as its believable descendant is immediately apparent. In this world life is seemingly perfect, and the very notion of ‘death’ has been effectively vanquished, but all things come at a price. What was that price, and was it worth it? Those are two of the questions that, while never openly addressed, hold this book together.
One of the most appealing things about this short work is the way in which the author refuses to shy away from some of the trickier details of the transition from the world we live in to the one inhabited by the characters, something that is all too often missing in this genre. The road from A to B is clearly mapped, as are the trade offs that were made along the way. It is an unapologetically introspective insider’s view of that future society, a fact that at first may make it hard for readers to keep themselves oriented, though those difficulties vanish after the first few pages.
Over all Laira is an enjoyable read that gets away from the beaten path. Unfortunately, in a market that insists on pigeonholing each and every book, the fact that this one refuses to play along may well cause it to get lost in the shuffle.