It is true, it took me quite a long time to read Mark Sowers's Society's House of Intractable Tension. However, I am making damn sure that my review is posted as soon as possible.
This book was not a fun read.
Now, I loved the book and had many a great moment flipping through the pages. It wasn't particularly “fun” since all those dystopian things which Mark wrote so eloquently about, they already happened. Those of us who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, we know all too well how authoritarian regimes operated. Moreover, the way things are moving around the world, today's generations might feel the same, maybe even more benevolent boot than the one which gently caressed our necks and faces.
Of course, we didn't have the Internet back then, but the tech Mark wrote about, all the devices of today, had they had them in their possession, the governments would've used them. Probably in exactly the same, soul-crushing fashion which he describes in his book.
Now, without me giving away too much of what happens, I can safely mention a number of things.
First – our main protagonist, Bryce, he has the nebulous feeling that something is... off. He was born into the regime and he knows nothing of what was before. The state made sure to thoroughly indoctrinate every youngster, brainwash the populace to assume their bureaucratic overlords are infallible, perfect, and benevolent. He was taught to repeat the slogans, salute the dear leaders and march goose step like a good, obedient little comrade.
However, there is one little thing about indoctrination and brainwashing, which a lot of governments miss. They are indeed effective, yet when the miserable reality of everyday life collides with all those pretty slogans, and fanatic party chants, they crumble. This is why all communist regimes eventually are forced to turn their citizens into prisoners. A work force with crushed wills and ravaged by fear minds is what they end up with.
Plus lots and lots of disgruntled people who become criminals in order to survive...
Second – it would seem that there is a group of people who work in the shadows. Their goal to resist and eventually, overthrow the communist regime when the time is right. They have a Plan, and their sympathizers may or may not be everywhere; hiding behind a bureaucrat's glasses or the tired menial worker's scruffy face.
Third – the “super efficient” and progressive communist government, just like in real life, is a collection of overzealous, incompetent idiots. On every level, innovation is resisted as if it is the Bubonic Plague. People with actual skill and ideas are forced to shut up and mind their business or they could win a permanent, “free” vacation to Cuba. Mediocrity rules; sniveling, corrupt bureaucrats are kissing their bosses arse or stabbing each other's backs, in order to secure yet another, meaningless promotion.
Because in this new America, the FTNA, where everyone is equal, where each citizen is provided for by the communist state, Bryce will wake up one day. He will slowly begin to realize that no one is free, that the top party brass is more equal than everyone else, and what the state has provided is nothing but a ball and chain. Shackles to bind every citizen, chain them to their factory, their falling apart prison apartment complex, and a tape to securely close their mouths shut.
Truth will set Bryce and all like him, free.
With new eyes they will see everything around them, with new ears they will hear and understand how hollow were the government's slogans. They will wake up to the lies and realize that they were born a slave, a useful commodity, to be used and abused by indifferent bureaucrats. If they denounced their lot, spoke out against the regime, they'd be vanished...
In conclusion, I can say that Mark Sowers's book is a must read! Especially for those youngsters, whose University and/or College professors keep chanting “Real communism has never been tried!” You wanna know what would happen if they “try” again?
Society's House of Intractable Tension will happen... most probably.
Five stars from me!
You can purchase a copy of Mark's book here.