Print this page
BOOK REVIEW:

Infomocracy

Imagine a world where the entire globe has agreed to a system of governance. World populations are broken down into groups of approximately 100,000 people, referred to as “centenals,” that are overseen by a specific type of government chosen by the residents. Some are democratic, some are not. If you live in a centenal, you agree to abide by the system of government in place. If you do not agree, you move to a centenal governed in the way you prefer. Or, you convince enough of your neighbors to change the type of government through an election held once a decade. The number of these “micro-democracies” belonging to a single governing system determines the identity of the “Supermajority,” the most influential system of governance. These critical once-a-decade elections are overseen by Information, a global information/internet, communication and entertainment service provider. Information maintains a level of separation from all governments while also enjoying its supremacy in public consciousness through sheer force of monopoly. For the last 20 years, since micro-democracy was embraced, Heritage has held the Supermajority. However, as the time nears for the next election, campaigning within the centenals has been fierce and it looks very possible that Heritage may lose.

Mishima is an Information operative charged with protecting Information’s interests any way that she can and at any cost. Ken works for the idealistic Policy1st government and is busily campaigning across the globe hoping he can convince centenals to embrace Policy1st in the upcoming election. Domaine is a mysterious outsider who claims to embrace “a different cause" than micro-democracy. As they work to fulfill their responsibilities and goals for the upcoming election, their paths will intersect repeatedly as they criss-cross the globe. Then a natural disaster strikes Japan, followed closely by increasingly disruptive acts of sabotage to the election process. Mishima, Ken and Domaine will find themselves pulled into a web of intrigue that could very well determine the fate of the world.

In her debut novel, Malka Older creates a terrifyingly recognizable world that is only a step or so removed from the one in which we live. Older’s concept of tailoring governments to the residents of a specific area, with the option that residents who do not like the government in their living area can move to one that they embrace, is an intriguing idea. There are aspects of the novel that resonate with some U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Having lived through the recent election cycle in our own world, there is nothing in Older’s political SF thriller that seems beyond belief. An expert in disaster management and response, Older brings her formidable knowledge and experience to bear as the plot moves seamlessly from Tokyo to Addis Ababa to Paris to Jakarta to New York City creating a crisis of global proportions. She also masterfully represents differing types of electoral governments, and in a few cases nonelected ones, along with their perspectives and does not pass judgement on any of them.  Infomocracy is a chilling, thrilling look at where our world could go, and what it could cost us, if we choose the path portrayed.

Top