Beckett’s Genesis story challenges both our perceptions of humanity and the concept of free will
Troy Media - by Faith Wood
In Genesis, a thought provoking science fiction tale, New Zealand author Bernard Beckett explores the mystery of consciousness and exposes an apocalyptic society – well into the 21st century – which was (perhaps) undone by its own fears.
I’ve always wondered why science fiction writers cannot seem to find another source of entertainment beyond exploring their fascination with robots. However, after spending an afternoon becoming immersed into this book, I discovered that its simple premise was anything but. In fact, it became delightfully complex.
Beckett never disappoints.
The story begins with Anaximander participating in a panel-style interview (an oral examination) to gain admittance into ‘The Academy’. Anaximander has chosen the path of a historian, and her dissertation describes a particularly poignant point in her society’s history.
During her dissertation, readers are drawn into the story of a world (or society) that has been created on an island, protected geographically from a great plague that has destroyed populations around the globe. Anaximander tells the tale of Adam (a soldier), who defies the laws of protection and becomes imprisoned for displaying compassion rather than strict compliance to orders when a young female visitor is discovered at the outer edges of the protected boundaries. As a result of this crime, he is ultimately imprisoned in a room with a fast-thinking artificially intelligent life form.
Beckett’s story challenges both our perceptions of humanity and the concept of free will. Is it fear that is the real culprit of a society’s ultimate demise, or rather is it the attempt to control thoughts completely?
The story is difficult to review without revealing the twists and turns that makes Genesis so enjoyable, one reason this review is so short. It is best to pick up your own copy to follow Anaximander as she describes a society that has descended into paranoia and endless wars.
Genesis by Bernard Beckett, McClelland & Stewart, 185 pages