Friday, June 19, 2009
I read a neat book called "The Unit", by Ninni Holmqvist. I say "neat" because it has an Orwellian, Handmaid's Tale sort of skeevy-ness about it. The book is set in the future, though not the far off future. Perhaps a generation forward. The Party (government) sets up a system in which "the dispensable" (childless women over fifty and childless men over sixty) are placed into a Reserve Bank Housing Unit. All of their needs are met (food, clothing, shopping, movies, activities, hobbies, housing, and medical). In fact, their needs are met so well that most live more affluent lives in the unit than they did outside. This is partly because the government has turned the country into a purely economically driven economy where families are, supposedly, the most precious resource. They did this to ensure that the GDP would stay on an upward trend. Mothers and fathers have to split maternity leave. There's a law stating moms must return to work and the government subsidizes child care from six months on. Those who do not have children, as I said, are dispensable. They are seen as a drain on the economy when they reach fifty, under the assumption that they won't be working much longer and have no one to care for. They go to the Unit. The Unit sounds like a pretty cool place (having all your needs met and all) until you understand the caveat. While you're being pampered and have every available comfort, you also are used for biological and medical experiments. You're also used as a donor. At any time, you might have a cornea or kidney or other organ taken. These organs are given to the "needed people" of society. Ultimately, after a few years, you make your "final donation" (heart or lungs). But, what happens when a dispensable gets pregnant (because, yes,...you can hook-up as much as you want in the Unit)? The powers that be assume women over fifty are pre-menopausal or menopausal, so this is a rare occurence. But, what if? This is what happens to the book's protagonist. I won't ruin the ending, but it's unexpected and thought provoking. I highly recommend checking this out! I don't like fiction and I blew through this in a day. Let me know what you think.
Posted by possum_momma at 9:36 AM