Graham Storrs's Reviews > Freedom Club

Freedom Club by Saul Garnell
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's review
Dec 19, 2011

really liked it
Read from November 28 to December 19, 2011 — I own a copy

It is often said that science fiction is the literature of ideas, yet most of what we see in the genre are shoot-'em-up adventure stories that could have been set anywhere and any time but just happen to be on a spaceship. The Freedom Club is not like that at all. It's near-future setting is crucial to the story and to the deep questions it raises about the value and meaning of our lives. The book is set in a time when artificial sentience is beginning to pervade all walks of life and people are beginning, perhaps belatedly, to resent it. It is a society filled with a vague unease, an undercurrent of self-doubt and uncertainty. The anti-technology terrorism that forms a backdrop to everyone's lives is merely the surface manifestation of a deep malaise.

Garnell puts us at the centre of this fast-crystalising resistance movement as his characters follow their various paths towards understanding and enlightenment. If you don't like books that make you think, steer clear of this one, because you will meet the ideas of Thoreau, Sartre, Marx, Ludd, and many others as the author explores the intellectual roots of the people struggling against what they see as the dehumanising influence of the technologies that have come to dominate humankind.

I have a few quibbles about the pace of the story and the author's writing style, but that's a gripe based on personal taste. All that aside, this is an intelligent, thoughtful book that is asking important questions about who we are and how we want to live. It's the kind of book that belongs squarely in the science fiction canon and which we need more of.
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