Book: Remember Tomorrow
Author: Amanda Saint
Publisher: Retreat West Books
How will it turn out? What will the year 2030, 2050 bring? Will things be more or less the same? Will we ‘tech out’ and have robot butlers who drive us around while we watch 3-D netflix through google glasses while news bulletins tlak about how successfully the new carbon capture devices are reducing atmospheric concentrations, and new GM coral is repopulating the Barrier Reef? Will things continue as they are, a little scarier, a little shittier? Or is the Mad Max future beckoning. Will there be mass starvation, biological war and other cantering horsemen of the apocalypse? It’s a challenge for fiction writers, and one that Amanda Saint, author of Remember Tomorrow, deals with well, if ambiguously.
The book starts in 2073, with an elderly woman, Evie (but don’t worry, she’s not married to someone called Adam, this is not a Biblical retelling) living on the coast in the South of England, a hidden and self-sufficient redoubt. But there is trouble in paradise – food stocks are running low and, more immediately, the virus of religious mania is taking hold. Her grandson, Jonah (see above) is the leader of this group, and Evie is at danger of a witch’s trial, where innocence is only conceded through death. This opening section, the opening fifth of the book, is particularly well-written, with sympathetic characters and a growing sense of tension. Saint then leaps back to ‘how it all began’ with Evie as a young activist in the year 2035. The section follows here as she becomes an activist, meets an older man, flees the city and arrives at her redoubt. It’s ths section, and the next, set in 2050, , that suffer most from the “cosy catastrophe” syndrome that Brian Aldiss identified, with much unexplained about the politics, economics and food situation of the country. Where is the central government? Where are the roving bands of hungry vigilantes? If the population has collapsed, how? What impact has that had on electricity generation, health, water supplies etc etc etc.
But this is not a blueprint for a different society, and it’s okay to slide over that, if the story is compelling, the characters sympathetic (or plausible if unsympathetic). In this, fortunately, Saint succeeds, and the novel then skips forward to 2063 and finally finishes off the moment of tension and danger for Evie. But, well, no spoilers.
Despite the occasional kitchen-sinkism (subplots involving fracking, undercover police/agents provocateur) this is a novel that is worth your attention, and a novel that would be enjoyed, especially by women, but by anyone interested in post-apocalyptic fiction, or just wants a thoughtful novel about our possible futures.
Reviewer: Marc Hudson