his was an interesting science fiction book I picked out of a curbside library somewhere. And the last page was interesting enough that I’m going to comment at length (and possibly with obscenities) in the next Dog Ear. Nothing against the writer, just… something.
Anyway, yes, The Cure. So, the story starts in a future human society, 2400 AD or so, where every chance of emotion or love or anger has been removed. This includes sex, music, and even facial expressions (everyone wears masks day and night to hide their true faces). Calming drugs are openly given to them (in the form of delicious drinks) and everyone is happy. Think of the first ten minutes of Logan’s Run.
But poor Gemm 16884. He does hear music in the life around him, in passing robots and nearby machinery. He finds himself struggling with various emotions. After his breakdown, he is given a choice – he can either be recycled or face The Cure. The latter is a VR version of a heavily researched and simulated life, one guaranteed to show him just why he should conform. So he chooses The Cure and ends up living the experience of Johannes, a Jew living in Strasbourg in 1348, right before the black death sweeps through.
It’s very interesting from the historical telling – I marveled at the research. And, like any book dealing with the persecution of Jews, it’s depressing if not frightening. Apparently as the disease slowly spread through southern Europe, the Christians there did what they usually do – claim the Jews are poisoning the wells and confirm it by torturing some of them. And so Johannes goes through his life, loving the music of his flute, pursing the only employment open to him – money lending – and falling in love, all while the persecutions mount and the world turns darker around him.
So it was a tough read. And (as I found out in the afterward, pretty damn true). And what happens to the Jewish community of Strasbourg – horrifying and historical, both.
I kinda saw where the novel was going – there really was only one outcome and Author Sonia Levitin took it right down that line – nothing wrong with that, of course. I’d be at a loss to come up with a different ending. But still, a fascinating tale of a time that seems to be replaying itself again (and you’d think, after the 1940’s, that would be impossible, but no, people are people).
Watch for a followup about this, a commentary about people and persecution, in next Thursday’s piece.