Book Review: ‘Intrusion’ by Ken MacLeod

33893Intrusion by Ken MacLeod tells the story of a socialist future run by an almost dictatorship. People are monitored 24/7, pregnant women practically forced to take ‘The Fix’ a magical pill which corrects any abnormalities in the gene code essentially wiping out childhood disease and disability.

The story focuses on Hope, a young pregnant woman who does not wish to take The Fix, her husband Hugh and their son Nick. Hope didn’t take The Fix with Nick but is coming under increasing pressure from various parties to take The Fix for her second.  A social researcher called Geena with the help of a genetics researcher called Joe, discover that Hugh and his son have a unique mutation on their genome which allows them to see a wider visual spectrum. This for some reason allows them to see into the future. Hugh sees people and places which others do not. MacLeod uses this as the basis for the story but doesn’t really take it any further than establishing that what Hugh has seen is the future.

In the world MacLeod has created, women must wear a ‘monitoring ring’ which logs their exposure to smoke and drink as well as various other information about their bodies.  In order to buy alcohol, women must prove they are not pregnant. The Fix is mandatory for all women to take, unless there are religious exemptions but unless you have this religious exemption there is no way to avoid taking The Fix. There is almost no personal freedom, there is terrorism in the background and various non-white characters get randomly picked up by the police and tortured for no reason.

By choosing to focus on Hope and Hugh, I feel that the more interesting story gets missed. Why were people so compliant in this world where women oppressed and are defined merely as baby making machines? Why were people just…putting up with what is essentially a police state where people could just be taken off the street and tortured for information? The future MacLeod establishes is deeply disturbing. I found it a frustrating read as I wanted more of an uprising or at least a greater objection to the curtailing of personal freedoms and I found the future-sight aspect out of place particularly as it didn’t move beyond simply existing.

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