While the Gods Sleep is a science fiction novel of a dystopian future, written by Johnny Fincham, a futurologist and distinguished palmist.
Not too far in the future, there is a cataclysmic event that turns nature against humanity. The air becomes poisonous, plants die and virulent strains of super viruses infect millions. That was year zero, for fifteen years Zach has been locked away from the world, in a high security prison.
Zach is also somewhat unique, in a world where everyone is altered to stop ageing, disease, illness and for vanity, he is the original unaltered human with a natural resistance to disease. He is also somewhat a celebrity, a distinguished mystic healer who is rumoured to be 112 years old and to exist without even food.
Apart from earning money from people visiting him to be healed, his fame actually works against him when he is kidnapped from the prison, for his natural immunities. Managing to escape, he finds himself in a world much changed in the 15 years since he was last free.
Everyone belongs to a tribe, each of which have different viewpoints and beliefs. if you are not a member of a tribe you are considered an outcast, a fact which makes surviving on the outside even more tricky. Zach just wants to find out if his wife is still alive after disappearing 15 years ago.
While the Gods Sleep is a true science fiction novel, offering us a glimpse of one possible future where society has become tribal and ultimately vain, untrusting of any authority and able to shape themselves as they see fit. The ulltra virus's that infect the planet mean that not only are people untrusting of strangers and those outside their tribe, but genetic medicine is extremely important.
The technology is described very clearly and very believably,from the clothes you wear speaking to you and recording events around you to intelligent buildings that automatically adjust to match your mood.
The vision that Johnny has created is of a dystopian future where society is controlled by commercial companies and where your beliefs are part of your tribe. The way this vision has been described is incredible with a complete future world believably mapped out in such detail you almost feel you are already there.
Setting the protagonist as a 50 something criminal, kept from society for 15 years and who is essentially an anti technologist is very clever, meaning we share in his discoveries and relate to his surprise, wonder and despair at this new world.
I am reminded very much of Judge Dredd meets Blade Runner then brought up to date with today's developments in technology, and the possible road that will take us. The quality of writing, the vision of the future and the character development are outstanding, I am actually quite astounded to find a writer with this calibre.
For a debut novel to match the quality of the science fiction greats like Roger Zelazny, Philip K Dick and Greg Bear, which this novel truly does, While the Gods Sleep is an outstanding piece of fiction that deserves to be on everyone's bookshelf.
Written on Thursday 21st January 2010 by Antony.
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