Thursday, 16 July 2015

Fluence: Ten Thousand Minutes and Counting by Stephen Oram
Release Date: 26th June 2015
Publisher: Silverwood Books
Genres: Dystopian

Amber is young and ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has. It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.

Fluence is a story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It's the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.

The premise behind this book is extremely interesting. Basically, a person's social and financial standing are influenced by social media. Given how much social media plays in our lives now, this is a frightening concept. The two main characters are both worried about how, on the yearly Pay Day when social strata is dictated according to accrued points, how their positions will change. One wants to move up a level, while the other is content with his standing but feels pressure coming from his family to 'better' himself. With a person's social standing being identified by a colour system, life holds more social and financial benefits according to the colour system. I enjoyed this book and the type of future it portrayed does not seem that implausible. At times I found it difficult to get my head around some of the features of this new world and some of the language but that did not deter my enjoyment of the book. A very interesting read and very thought provoking. Each time I picked up my phone to check Facebook or Twitter I thought about this book. We are all definitely becoming slaves to the world of social media! With everyone desperate to post interesting things on social media, is life so different at the moment? Something to think about! Imagine if those posts dictated how you were able to live, your job and your home. And, throughout, Big Brother really is watching! Frightening! 

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Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism. I really enjoy taking a sideways look at our world and thinking, “what if,” and then writing about it through speculative fiction.

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