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Imagine a near-future city, say London, where medical science has advanced beyond our own and a single-dose pill has been developed that, taken when pregnant, eradicates many common genetic defects from an unborn child. Hope Morrison, mother of a hyperactive four-year-old, is expecting her second child. She refuses to take The Fix, as the pill is known. This divides her family and friends and puts her and her husband in danger of imprisonment or worse. Is her decision a private matter of individual choice, or is it tantamount to willful neglect of her unborn child? A plausible and original novel with sinister echoes of 1984 and Brave New World.
I requested and gratefully received this paperback from Orbit Books with the intention of reading and reviewing giving you my honest opinion.
So I’ll start with the cover which did initially attract me to the book. It shows a spoon holding a rather “normal” looking somewhat inoffensive tablet. Upon reading the book you find out the tablet is called “The Fix” in simple, basic terms it is a tablet all pregnant women are encouraged and somewhat expected to take. The Fix claims to literally fix any genetic defects whilst the baby is in the womb. The title on the cover is in an attention grabbing red and its name of Intrusion totally fits the book when you read it. The authors name is in the same font but black which fits in with what I see as a clinical feel about the cover.
There is also a quote from Iain M Bank, “A twistedly clever, frighteningly plausible dystopian glimpse” I totally agree with Iain M Banks description of the book, but I don’t like the quote being on the front cover! The cover would remain so much more clinical and striking without that quote! The quote should in my opinion be on the back cover of the book, with the quote by Cory Doctrow and the Guardian. It is one of my pet hates, quotes marring the beauty of a front cover, a by-line yes, a quote from another Author or reader no!
So now onto the book, as Iain M Bank says, the book has a twisted quality to it. I think it very representative of the increasingly present “big brother” society we are living in. This book and what happens in it re so realistically told that it isn’t a large leap to think it could really happen in the not too distant future. I mean who knows what types of medication the scientists are developing.
The book tell the story of Hugh Morrison and his pregnant wife Hope. Hope doesn’t want to take “The Fix” for no other reason really other than she just doesn’t want to, she doesn’t feel the need, her first son Nick who is fit and healthy was not subjected to The Fix in her womb so why should this pregnancy and baby be any different. Also I think like most women hope doesn’t like to feel she is being told what she must do. So when the health visitor brings up her reluctance to take “The Fix” Hope explains her feelings. Bad, bad, move because now she is flagged up in the “system” as an “objector” and “troublemaker”. There are legitimate ways to “get out” of taking “The Fix” you can object on religious grounds, some people do this even though they aren’t really religious but Hope is principled and really doesn’t see that as an option.
The society in this book is quite different too, it’s sort of set in the future somewhat, its all very “big brother” is watching you, with cameras in your home watching you as well as in the workplace and on the streets. If you mix with people considered by the police/government to be unsavoury, or take off your monitor ring (if you are a woman & pregnant) that lets the health service know you have “been exposed” to smoking or alcohol etc.
For those few who dare to be different and perhaps even rebel a little they can be picked up and harassed. There’s an incident in the book when a young professional woman is picked up by the police and interrogated because she has looked at a wall and seen the same piece of graffiti twice and not reported it! The poor woman is traumatised but too discouraged by the way the system works to even complain.
There’s lots of new gadgets and ways of society in this book, but the weirs/strange thing is that I could really believe some of it actually happening.
The other aspect of the book is Hugh’s family coming from a small Island surrounded by mystery, and suspicion and strange tales. Hugh’s family are somewhat “different” as they have gene that allows “second sight” could this be a valid reason not to take “The Fix”
The book also deals with other people’s reactions to Hope and her impending decision.
So what did I think to the book? Well it was rather wordy! (bit like my review)political and I suppose you could say controversial, at times some of the political stuff seemed to drag a little. Having said that I did really enjoy the book. The whole “second sight” issue part of the book was at times confusing, and not really explored as much as I would have liked. I was also a little disappointed in the ending, all that Hope had gone through . . . . and then for things to end as they did.
So did I enjoy the book? Yes! On the whole I did. Would I recommend the book? To a patient reader who loves debate and dystopian too, yes. Would I read more by Ken Macleod? Maybe.