Intrusion by Ken MacLeod: dystopian rules

Intrusion is a meditation on a near future where life is regulated with a high level of morality and ethics. Extrapolated ideas on what that may look like a quite restrained with the occasional AI toy and truck. The main debate centres on a medical “fix” for pregnant women and their forthcoming child. The conversations with the medical worker are necessarily disturbing on how people are expected to do the right thing or face the consequences. Black Mirror has explored multiple variations on this theme – the future looks bleak for libertarians.

The plot thickens in a sinister way in how the mother has all her actions monitored and then mopped up into a pattern of behaviour we have come to term “domestic terrorist.” This is the intrusion that is already creeping into our UK society with the high level of CCTV coverage, and digitalisation of records and transactions including in the cloud. Big data knows what we will do next.

It’s probably more accurate to define this novel’s position as a warning of dystopian creep rather than liberalism.

Where the story is on fuzzier ground is the other plot around the father’s inherited gift of seeing in to the near future – tachyon – with an over reliance on hard science that masks how weak it is written into the novel – there is no real sense of why it mattered and what difference it made to daily lives, plus it muddled the other argument about the fact the mother simply wanted the right to choose.

Interactions with the MP, Maya and Geena are lightly written, like the book itself, and failed to grip me with a sense of a full journey to take on the state.

Finally, this becomes a personal journey as Ken MacLeod takes us back to his home in Lewis Scotland. It was just that and I could have easily been taken to Yorkshire or Wales. The escape to Scotland falls flat on its face as they are all too easily (and how?) so why do it?

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