It is the year 2036 and the world is in ruins. The United States of America, in particular, is one of those once-great countries that have fallen off the rails. Their army now fights for Indian & Japanses paymasters, the population that is left is increasingly turning to drugs to drown the pain. Flashback is the drug most use to numb themselves, it allows users to revisit any one of their memories, to relive a former life of happiness.
Nick Bottom is an addict. He is also an ex-policeman. Before his wife died in a car crash he was a pretty good cop. But then grief took him, and now he spends all the time he can using flashback to live his happily married days over. Never mind that he has a sixteen year old son who needs him. His addiction gor him kicked off the force. Got him abandoning his son to the care of his grandfather. But now one of the powerful Japanese billionaires who run America has taken an interest in Nick, he wants Nick to reopen an old investigation.
Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. You know the way that you read Terry Goodkind’s books, and you know they aren’t very good, but they’re sorta entertaining, at least to start with, but then you start to get all grossed out by the propaganda and ulta-right wing spiel. Well, this is Dan Simmons’ version of that.
Within the first chapter I was debating whether or not I should continue reading I so grossed out. And I’m not exageratting there. I literally felt disgusted by the book. The use of constant derogatory slang words for cutlures and peoples. The anti-Islam message that was shouted out from every page. The anti-Obama, anti-poor people, anti-anything but right wing was so obvious and clumsy. It isn;t that I had any problems with the characters themselves being racist, or Islamophobes, that can be used really well in a book, but the message that I got out of this book is that all Muslims want to enslave the rest of the world, that any form of social welfare is an “entitlement” that will bring about the end of civilisation because those people who claim it should really be working to pay for their medical care. Never mind that they can find a job, that’s just nit-picking, they should be out there working!
As for the story itself, it is a good solid plot. Nick is an ass but he is supposed to be. Val, hmm, now Val is a dodgy character. Some of the things he got up to with his flashgang… I just don’t know why we are supposed to hope to has a good end. I did like Leonard though. Nick’s father-in-law and Val’s grandfather.
But the ending was weak, Show Spoiler ▼
The one thing it isn’t however is sexist, but that’s only because there are no real female characters. The closest if K.T., Nick’s old partner, but she isn’t in the book enough to really count if you ask me.