Mentioning to a friend that I have always enjoyed dystopian/utopian (futurist) fiction (it always seemed to be a staple of my teenage reading, and more recently, books such as The Hunger Games, and TV series such as Black Mirror and Mr Robot), having just re-read the Divergent trilogy, he suggested I should try (and lent me) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.
In brief, Charmaine and Stan, who had been happily employed, mortgaged, and planning for kids, victims of a terrible economic crash, are reduced to living in their car, surviving on tips, having to escape from wherever they’ve parked 3-4 times a night. They then see an advert for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’, in which they’ll be offered regular work, a home of their own – but they’ll need to spend alternate months in a prison cell. Once in, there’s no escape, but they sign straight up, with the first year appearing pretty straightforward, but then they start to become obsessed with their ‘Alternate’, those who live in their house whilst they’re in prison… and life begins to unravel. Echoes of Big Brother and The Truman Show were in my mind whilst reading – control, conformity, and then challenge!
Now awaiting The Handmaid’s Tale to read!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.