And dear God, I am sick of them.
Granted, there have been some solid ones. Daniella Bova’s Tears of Paradox looked something like it was out of Walker Percy than anything else. There’s Ordinance 93, that was mostly an action thriller with heavy espionage elements than a distopia. There’s every John Ringo novel, which looks like he’s destroying the world at one point or another.
But for everyone one of those, there are easily ten that don’t make the cut. Or drive me to tears. Or drive me insane. I don’t even finish them, because I can’t. Honestly, it’s either the despair, or the writing, and the occasional “Why am I not doing something fun, like having a root canal?”
And then a friend of mine, Marina Fontaine, wanted me to look at Chasing Freedom.
Finally, at long last, something fun.
There’s a good reason it was nominated for a Dragon Award. It earned it. This is a distopia that’s easy to digest, easy to read, and simply enjoyable.
Our main characters are Julie and Randy, and we follow them from being teenagers rebelling against a PC system gone amuck, via blogs and rallies, and watch them blossom into resistance fighters against a totalitarian system.
What’s that you say? Sounds like a variation on Red Dawn? Sounds like a TEA partier’s worse nightmare? Must be written by some redneck in flyover country?
Oops, sorry, no. Marina lived in the USSR. She’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt. You want a tyrannical nightmare, she can build one. However, you will not want to read this one with a bottle of vodka.
Chasing Freedom is different from all the other distopias for a number of reasons. The tone is lighter and hopeful. It’s also filled with creative ideas about how to circumvent a dictatorship. For example, Amish country becomes a safe haven for people fleeing the nightmare that is the urban environment (like New Jersey). Also, this is a distopia that operates on the level of a Tom Clancy novel, following various and sundry people at multiple levels of the resistance and the political hierarchy — from the schlub in the street, to the grunts running the black sites, to smugglers getting people to Canada.
Despite having all of these characters at all of these levels, they’re easy to keep track of. They have histories, they have easily traced relationships, and they all connect to each other.
Another difference is that this is not outlandish. This is not a delusion. Much of the tyrannical elements are visible from here. You can see these coming. And when you see the ones at the start of the novel, the ones to follow are easier still to see.
And the best difference? This is one book. Sure, there could be more novels, but this is basically it, one novel, one story — a history of a resistance, encapsulated in a few hundred pages. I honestly can’t name you one person who’s done that.
Just do yourself a favor, and buy the book already.