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Author Topic: Ben Elton's Blind Faith - A review.  (Read 956 times)

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Offline DoctorBlack

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Ben Elton's Blind Faith - A review.
« on: November 15, 2007, 06:39:35 PM »
This one's going to be for the Brits, I'm afraid. Seeing as this particular slab of hard-back hell isn't due for release in the US until June 08. Why? I have no idea, I suppose they're running the entire text through a filter that systematically removes the u's from select words, that or converting it to run on NTSC paper.

Anyway, the book. Fetching cover, aqua colours with a pleasing eye-and-ferris wheel motif and the author's name in a font approximately five times larger than that of the title. Always a good sign. Interestingly they've added the strapline "his new best seller" despite this being the first edition, which strongly implies Elton has already purchased enough copies to build himself a fort in his living room.

Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. Elton posits a mid-21st century London, half-submerged by the melting of the polar ice caps where the population live in warren-like tenements constantly supervising and being supervised by everyone else. The government's now a vestigial organ in a vast theocracy that's part American fundamentalist, part Oprahism. Society's basically become 1984 but with the proles on top and anyone who shows a trace of independent thought or defiance of the mob's will is either ripped apart in the streets or submitted to medieval torture-execution. Our hero is a man raised in this world who gradually becomes discontent with the religiously-instilled mass ignorance around him, falls in with a bunch of Humanists and, in a thuddingly inevitable Elton plot non-twist, accidentally betrays them and gets them all killed.

There's Orwellian overtones, Fahrenheit 451-ian undertones and a rich, creamy center of turgid crap. It says a lot about your talents as an author when you're forced to have one of your characters announce, at the end of chapter three no less "It's a lot like 1984". Nice lampshade hanging, Benny boy. Also, because it's broadly speaking a satire, it's achingly zeitgeist in the worst possible sense of the word, every other paragraph someone's being streamed via webcam or downloaded as a podcast or having their blog googled and uploaded as a youtube feed on their myspace. You could forgive this in a novel written by someone who knew what the Hell they were talking about, but Elton's a man pushing 50 and there's a strong sense he's just parroting back terms he overheard his daughter use when she was helping him buy 10,000 copies of his last book off of Amazon.

Not that Elton's content to ineptly plunder technological trends, there's contemporary political satire of the "America's a knuckle-headed land of televangelists, rednecks and oil-mad warmongers" flavour. Islamic suicide bombers? They're in. Global warming? Sure, that's still cool. The Great Evolution Debate? Crudely boiled down to the level a 12-year old could understand and in. Princess Diana, Make Poverty History, the Oil Crisis, pretty much anything that's been news over the past three years is referenced and parodied in here in that not-particularly-funny, not-particularly-clever way that Political cartoonists mastered somewhere back in the 18th century.

There's so much deus ex machina it's hard to take it seriously as an anti-theist text, symbolism comes in bold-font, size 24 with triple underlining and four exclamation points and characters are of the Dickensian broad-comic variety that should never, ever, under any circumstances have the sort of sex Ben Elton springs on you in the middle of a chapter. It's not right.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I realize this comes off as a little angry and, well, yeah. It's a terrible book. It hurt me and I needed to vent a little. Don't buy it, don't read it and if a friend gives you a copy hurl it back at their head.