Science Fiction can be a pretty good way of predicting whether the future’s going to be bright or if it’s going to be all doom and gloom. After all, these sci-films got their predictions right, or at least inspired the future that we’re living in now.
If The Million, a book written by Canadian author and futurist Karl Schroeder, is anything to go by, there’s plenty of doom and gloom to go around.
The Verge has details on the plot:
In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact. Every 30 years they allow the rest of humankind to return to the planet for a single month, but the rest of the time they forbid the presence of outsiders in their fabulous utopia. One such outsider is Gavin Penn-of-Chaffee, an illegal child raised in secret.
After his adoptive father is murdered, Gavin takes on the identity of a dead boy — only to learn that his new identity has just joined the dreaded secret police force of The Million. In order to survive, he’ll have to infiltrate their ranks and stay focused on finding the people who destroyed his life.
Thrilling! This sounds like it could happen in real life if, you know, the human race decides to go this chaotic route in the future.
The chapter is included in the full report, but we’ve picked out the tantalising bits for you:
The vast ballroom Gavin strode into was packed with men in tuxedos and women wearing all manner of gowns, dresses, and visual confections. They were chatting, eating snacks off the trays of passing bots, raising glasses to this or that proposition, and, way too often, leaning together to eye Bernie and mutter as he passed by.
They could have been holographic projections from the real ballroom, but they weren’t; like the rest of the Million, Gavin had been raised to think of digital simulation as uncouth. Instead, this was a real double to the other room, and the “people” in it were fakes: bots made to look like the people visiting the Chaffee estate.
Gavin watched the fake that was imitating his brother long enough to be sure that he wasn’t about to bolt in terror. The bot not only looked like Bernie, it mimicked his expressions down to the finest detail, and repeated in his voice what he’d said in the other room. All looked good so far: he’d started a conversation with that girl in the lemon-yellow dress. Seeing this, Gavin turned away and closed his eyes.
Conversations, music, the tinkling of glasses, and the swish of skirts along the floor washed over him like a calming sea. Light laughter sang from his left, and he smiled; a dance started up and he listened to the music echoing off the walls and the squeak of new shoes on the parquet floor. He tried to forget that this was Bernie’s party and not his. He tried to imagine all these people gathering here to celebrate him.
But no, that was too much. He had no idea what such a moment would feel like.
Despite himself, he turned for one last look. There were quite a few young people in the crowd. What would it be like to walk among them? To talk to them? Bernie’s guests were intimidating, all of them beautiful or handsome, perfectly dressed, and perfectly poised. Like most of the scions of the Million, these ones were intensely focused, serious, and cautious around their elders. They should be—all of human civilization rested on their shoulders. Each was doubtless determined to become the greatest composer, pilot, scientist, or philosopher of this generation. All knew that if there were only one million people alive in the whole world, then those million had a responsibility to be equal to all who had come before.
“Stop skulking about, Neal,” snapped an older man’s voice. “This is a party, not one of your hunts.”
The speaker was an older man, his face eclipsed by the head of a youth who was turned away from Gavin. All Gavin could see of the pair was their shared shaggy hair and hulking shoulders. Then the younger one looked around and sneered at the crowd, and Gavin froze.
He knew that face.
Sound like a good read? If you want to read the full chapter, and find out who Gavin is looking at it, read the full chapter here.
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