Picture a near future where Israel has been nuked, the recession is going into its thirtieth year, minorities have carved up the United States into individual districts, terrorism is an everyday event and youth gangs rule. This is the world of Dan Simmons’ Flashback. I’ve only read about one third of it, but whether right wing, anti-liberal propaganda or an interesting social commentary thought experiment, it is undoubtedly the most terrifying prediction of the future I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot of novels describing dystopias.
Add to this a drug addled society, addicted to a new drug called “Flash” which allows users to vividly relive any part of their past lives, and you have a society rotten to the core and spiraling downwards. While Simmons has utilized almost every nightmare we might have projected onto the future, his prophesy is still eerily plausible, which is the most disturbing part.
Superimposed on this dark scenario is a murder mystery made all the more engaging by the characters’ ability to flash back on events to confirm facts and find new clues.
All in all this is a fantastic read, so far. It makes you think hard about what the consequences might be if we do, in fact, get it all wrong.