Proles by Joel E. Lorentzen (ISBN 9798593702081)
We’ve all heard about George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. But what could happen in the future?
That’s the question Joel E. Lorentzen tries to answer in his novel Proles: A novel about 2084.
Lorentzen, who was born in Davenport, Iowa, moved with his family to various acreages between Blue Grass and Buffalo as he was growing up, later settling on a 144-acre farm in Muscatine County. He later graduated from Muscatine High School which he identifies as his hometown. He now lives in Rock Island, Ill.
Lorentzen’s Iowa roots continued when the received his electrical engineering degree from Iowa State University then his MBA from the University of Iowa. With a lifelong career in robotics development, Lorentzen offers a background that uniquely qualifies him to write about technology run amok in the late 21st century.
At the heart of the novel is Julianna-119, a scientist who plots threats to humanity hundreds of years in the future. While Julianna is a Thelite, one of the elite who govern society, she has Prole roots through her father and uncle David.
At first, Thelite society seems a utopia. Members are implanted with BioGrams at birth which control their thought patterns. Thelites are also provided with ‘spirit dispensers’ that promote happiness and undisturbed sleep. Thelite society encourages freedom of interpersonal relations between men and women with multiple partners, and the Center for Reproductive Liberty matches genetically perfect parents to perpetuate the perfect Thelite society.
But when her father is admitted to the Center for Transition Management, a euphemism for execution, Julia starts to question the very society of which she is a part.
“The algorithms also indicate that the cost of sustaining his life with the complexity will exceed his value,” a ranking Thelite official told Julianna about her father.
That is when she begins to dream, a phenomenon virtually unknown to the Thelites whose Best Society tries to control peoples’ every thought and breath and where dreams are discouraged because they are a source of ideas and communication between the Proles who have not been adapted nor admitted to Thelite society.
Through her dreams, Julianna communicates with Proles, such as her uncle David, and to develop empathy with two Prole couples, Meghan and Chad and Abby and Keaton, who face the same fate as her father.
Lorentzen presents some disturbing possibilities if technology should come to rule us rather than us ruling technology. What Orwell has started, Lorentzen has continued and in a very moving and frightening way.
(Michael Tidemann writes from Estherville, Iowa. His author page is amazon.com/author/michaeltidemann.)
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