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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  984 ratings  ·  229 reviews
Robert Jackson Bennett's Vigilance is a dark science fiction action parable from an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence.

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces "Vigilance," a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a "game environment," and the
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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ARC provided by the publisher——in exchange for an honest review.

A powerful and terrifyingly necessary novella; I sincerely hope that it’s not prophetic.

Gun violence and mass shooting, we’ve all heard about it; it has happened way too many times for the past couple of years. I’m not American, I never lose someone close to me to gun violence or mass shooting. Even then, I found that this book was dark, terrifying, and powerful because looking at the state of the world now, I can’t dispute
Aqsa (On Hiatus)
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
3.5 Stars

Read for SpecFic Buddy Reads- Febrauary BR.

My heart is still pounding!

Why can’t we find a way to get everyone to be vigilant, and get great ratings?
And thus, the game was born.

I was confused in the first 3 chapters as I tried to understand what Vigilance was and what was happening and where this was headed; then I was too excited when the Vigilance was about to start but then for some reason, I was so mad when it started!

“Hello, boys,” he says jovially. “Who’s ready to kill some
OMG what a glorious, gloriously messed-up SF. :)

Bennett pulls off a great hat trick that follows some of the greatest SF stories ever written. He drills down on a single issue: Guns.

So... done, and perhaps overdone for years, right? Yes, of course! Because the problem is WORSE now than ever! Look at the Purge and dozens of others to show us where we're headed. It's the drill-down. Let's see our possible futures and see what kind of consequences are in store for us.

This one goes delightfully
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novella, 2019-read
Chilling and scary, but also sad. Robert Jackson Bennett's near future setting seems frighteningly prescient. Anyone turning on the news today can see how the cultural of fear is decimating America, and the loss of all that potential because of it is simply painful to watch.

The heart of the matter was that, from the beginning, America had always been a nation of fear. Fear of the monarchy. Fear of the elites. Fear of losing your property, to the government or invasion. A fear that, though you
So. I love Robert Jackson Bennett. His Divine Cities trilogy is probably my favorite fantasy series of all time; they are so good that I went and bought all of his other books as soon as I was done with those. And they are really amazing. But this novella just freaked the fuck out of me. In a good way? I read the synopsis, and I thought, “Jeez, Mr. Bennett, couldn’t you have stuck to fiction?”. He's clearly very angry at American gun culture, the media that takes fear-mongering to another level, ...more
An extrapolation of US gun culture, big data and reactionary societal trends produces this disturbing book that reads like a combination of the Truman Show, the Running Man and modern-day mass shootings.

The plot here is very simple and best appreciated without spoilers as the ongoing horror of what Vigilance actually is unfolds to the reader. How the reader is going to take it depends largely on how you feel about things like "Thoughts and prayers", the NRA and the gun lobby wanting to arm
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
If there's one thing John McDean loves more than anything else in the world, it's telling people to be vigilant.

Vigilance is not a very pleasant novel - but then, this never promised to be a look into America's optimistic future. What it is though, is timely, terrifying, and completely on the nose in it's observations.

Usually I won't give a high rating to something so bleak. But just occasionally, bleakness is trumped by a sense of importance, and this book touches on almost every point
Michael Hicks
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review of Vigilance can be found at High Fever Books.

In the near future, America’s favorite pastime — mass shootings — has become a ratings juggernaut. Under the supervision of executive producer John McDean, ONT (Our Nation’s Truth) irregularly broadcasts Vigilance, a reality TV game show that turns local malls, schools, train stations, restaurants, and other randomly chosen public arenas into grotesque scenes of mass gun violence for the entertainment of its home viewers.

although America
kartik narayanan
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Vigilance tries to be a moralistic science fiction story in the vein of movies like The Purge and The Running Man, but ultimately does not have much going for it.

First off, let me state that I am liberal and, like anyone with a working brain, I think Trump is one of the worst things that could be inflicted on the world. Why is this important? Because Vigilance takes all the fears that liberals have, turns the dial to 11, fills the story with a number of Trumpisms and tries to the do same thing
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Whoa. Super depressing and a plausible outcome when the nastiness, cynicism and violence in the US of today is extrapolated forward to a really dark future where mass shootings, marketing, AI and reality tv come together to sell more products and entertain.
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received this ARC from Tor in exchange for an honest review!


CW: sexism, mass violence, mass shootings, and graphic descriptions

My updates for this book looked a little like this:

“Well, this is terrifying.”
“Yep, this is terrifying.”
“That. Was. Fucked.”

The last one was my ending thoughts on the book, so that says a lot, right? This book was a force of violence. It shocked me and had my heart pounding. I mean, I read most of it in one of my classes
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John McDean runs a US TV network. This network shows a program called "Vigilance" which is a reality show where a location is chosen and some people who signed up and happen to be in the area subsequently get to shoot everyone in sight. The reason? To check if the people in the area (could be a shopping mall or a train station or whatever) fight back, if they came prepared and thus potentially survive.
It is 2030 and America has succumbed to fearmongering. Gun sales are off the charts. McDean
Holly (The Grimdragon)
"The heart of the matter was that, from the beginning, America had always been a nation of fear.."

As I sit here writing this review, the narrative of the world continues to appear bleak. A cavalcade of grim events litter our news headlines steadily. MAGA-hat-wearing teenage boys protesting a woman's right to choose at the March for Life rally, then infringing upon the personal space of a 64 year old Native American vet, taunting him while he beat on his drum as part of the Ingenious Peoples
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
How do you review a book that is well written and raises important question but is just horrible to read?

Vigliance is an examination of the violent and moronic obsession that many Americans have with guns. It’s a tv game show that places armed psychos within an unsuspecting civilian rich environment and then calls those civilians cowards for running away, unprepared for dying in front of the loved ones and pathetic because they have a gun but haven’t spent quite enough hours firing at stationary
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Dark science-fiction by Robert Jackson Bennett? Yes, please.

In a near-future (2030) America, Vigilance is a popular TV reality show in which shooters kill civilians in a variety of places (malls, restaurants etc). John McDean, the show’s cynical executive producer manipulatesamericans’ fears, and explores culture of fear and insecurity to increase ratings and advertising revenue.

It’s hard to like any of the characters portrayed by Bennett. They’re not evil. They just don’t give a fuck anymore.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Well, that was depressing. And scarily possible.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Vigilance is a terrifying novella of a not so distant future United States of America so wrapped up in guns and violence that they’ve dissociated from the world stage and created a stage of their own chockfull of gratuitous gun violence.

Vigilance follows John McDean as he orchestrates the next Vigilance, a reality game show where shooters are introduced into a real life setting and the survivors win cash prizes. Everything about the Vigilance is controlled, monitored, and analyzed for data and
Dec 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's obviously written by a hapless urbanite who didn't grow up with firearms and doesn't have a clue why people own them.

Some of the pontifications therein are just incandescently dumb... To wit(less):
“A firearm should provoke analysis and thought, not action. Or that’s how it should be, at least."

What? Huh? This guy thinks we should sit around staring at firearms and analyzing and thinking about them? (well, okay, maybe if it was a malfunctioning machinegun I might have to do that...
This is one angry, vicious, violent, sarcastic satire. It's a near-future dystopian US where the hit reality TV show is Vigilance, in which a few contestants, "actives," try to kill as many people as possible in the selected venue (you opt in when you enter such areas, like the mall, sports stadium or airport; the signs at the door tell you so.) It's mass shootings evolved into entertainment & marketing. The story is mostly the PoV of the showrunner, who's all about the TMA's (Target Market ...more
Very different from his other books, Bennett has written a frightening story about America’s love affair with guns, fear of the ‘other’ and the marketing to that fear.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the scariest book I've read in a long time, mostly because elements of it feel like they're not so outlandish for the near future. For the most part it was an excellent story. However, the ending felt too heavy-handed and ridiculous. It really didn't fit the novel/novella the way it would have a short story. A little restraint could have led to a more believable ending. 3 1/2 stars.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dumb, overtly simplistic political dystopian fiction

Robert Jackson Bennett is a talented author, but this one really missed the mark for me. It's a spitefully thin political screed masquerading as "thoughtful" science fiction that beats you over the head with its themes (Capitalism? Bad! White people? Dumb, greedy and racist! America? Awful place!) until you've reached a dull stupor and then bashes you over the head with them some more.

Now I actually don't mind a bit of politics in my
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Trigger warning for anything and everything guns, violence, and mass murder.

The America circa 2030 that Bennett pictures is not a happy place. Take the most troubling parts of American life and shove them down the slippery slope - a lack of gun control leads to a culture where open carry is de rigueur and random gun violence is part of everyday life. Technology has evolved a and newscaster can be generated from algorithms, and live video can be manipulated to the point that you never know if
Jessica Strider
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pros: thought-provoking, interesting characters, good social commentary

Cons: lots of adult content

In a future America, the hit reality TV show is Vigilance, where active shooters are sent into unprepared locations to see if the people there have what it takes to survive.

This novella is told through the perspectives of two people. First is John McDean, a marketing man and head of Vigilance’s production team. The second is Delyna, a bartender whose patrons are hyped to watch the next episode of
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
In his write-up on science fiction and fantasy in 2018 for Locus magazine, 2018: A Year on Edge, noted critic and reviewer Paul Kincaid describes some of last year's social and political pressure points and then observes the following:

"All of this is, at some point, going to feed through into a wave of fictions built around the ongoing sense of fear and mistrust, the feeling that the world is out of kilter."

The two short novels I'm going to look at in this column certainly belong in Kincaid's
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was provided an ARC by in exchange for my open and honest review.

It is a terrible and wondrous thing to be so stunned by a story you lose your ability to use words. This story literally stunned me into silence. The only response I could muster for the first day was, "That was fucked."

I'll tell you why. I am from Las Vegas, Nevada. Born and bred. On October 1st of 2017, my hometown was visited by the worst act of mass gun violence in US history. I watched the news in horror as people
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some of the best science fiction takes the trends of its moment and extrapolates slightly, like "Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into the Future". "Vigilance" is in that category. It takes us to a near future America where the logic of the NRA has been totally accepted by politicians and the media: if you're a victim of gun violence, well, it's because you didn't have a gun of your own, hadn't prepared your exit plan, weren't vigilant. So the government allows a reality TV show which arranges possible ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the story progressed, I was getting disappointed that a writer of Bennett’s caliber would pop out such a derivative mashup of “The Right of the People” and something like “The Running Man”, but then as the end drew nearer the story took an unexpected turn, ending with a powerful bang that I can see will be a pointy finger poked into the eye of many people drawn to this novella by the lovely cover. Yes, it is satire, it does seem implausible that things would get this screwed up, but a couple ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Bleak. REALLY bleak. And the setting of 2030 is perfect, because nothing in this story is terribly far fetched. The two POV characters are a great contrast, although I'm displeased with their outcomes. Read on a very bright sunny day when you have positive feelings about the world, or on a day you just want to wallow in the hopelessness of humanity. Either way, prepare to hate everything. All that said, certainly well written and a useful parable.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting premise, lost steam, ending is predictable.
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Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 ...more
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“she knows why she hasn’t left: because she believed that things would change. That they would get better. She wasn’t sure why—she just thought it would. Such an idea had been engraved in her mind since childhood: the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. It is the American story, or so she thought. Yet she’s realized all too late that it is exactly that—a story. An idea, a fiction, or maybe even a piece of propaganda designed to keep her here and quiet. Perhaps change isn’t always slow and incrementally positive. Perhaps it can be fast, and for the worse. Perhaps things will never get better. Perhaps the present is also the future.” 0 likes
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