In A Right State – Ben Ellis (Self-published, 2014)
In A Right State is set in a futuristic Britain where information is a profitable resource, collected and used by large corporations as a commodity, to increase sales precision, earn profits and run the country’s economy.
Set in 2066 the story follows retired genetic researcher Duncan Hartley who is in violation of patent laws having been growing illegal tomatoes in his back garden. Fearing the repercussions of his actions, we first meet Duncan as he illegitimately attends the auction of his deceased wife’s body parts: With rising costs associated with disposal it is now deemed mandatory for the dead to earn a profit from their passing, by selling off their viable organs, allowing them to pay off debt and provide an inheritance for their loved ones. Unfortunately, he accidentally gives himself away and is soon hunted by the authorities.
Meanwhile, 30 year old Amy Jay, data analyst for the Pharmara Corporation loses her job due to her friendship with Nicole Hartley, Duncan’s recently deceased wife. Pharmara believe Amy to be an accessory to Duncan’s illegal activities and the whole sorry situation results in Amy and Duncan being on the run from Pharmara boss, Estelle Hawthorne.
Coupled with Poppy Gold, daughter to the man seeking to revolutionise the local power industry, Amy and Duncan become embroiled in an elaborate plot to collect and sell personal data to all and sundry, with no regards for privacy.
Can the Colonel’s plan be foiled, and more importantly will Duncan managed to get his precious seeds out of the country undetected?
“The auction of your wife’s body parts was not the ideal place to grieve.” – Duncan Hartley’s inner thoughts. p 7
“It’s important to observe the observed without them knowing they are being observed.” – Estelle Hawthorne. p 24
“We track, we measure, we record, we trend and we forecast.” – Charles Sand, CEO of Rooftech Industries. p 149
In A Right State is a very well written and impressive debut novel from UK writer Ben Ellis.
His story is set in a realistic and very possible sounding future in which businesses run the economy, based solely on statistical data obtained from an almost infinite number of electronic sources, where waste is reduced almost to the point of non-existence. As a result profit is optimised and people are constantly being bombarded with invasive information as corporations attempt to maximise their sales.
Right from the start this book has the reader hooked as we jump straight in to the unexpectedly weird auction scene and despite the important theme of an apparent lack of respect for privacy, the story finds plenty of opportunities to have fun and be light-hearted enough not to take itself too seriously.
I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys futuristic dystopian style stories and I look forward to reading more from Ben Ellis in the future.