Mar. 22nd, 2009

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Ben Elton – Blind faith

Just over sixty years ago George Orwell wrote a political satire. He stared at the world and ended up with a horrible vision of the future. His book then got the title 1984, he just swapped the numbers of the year he wrote it. It became a huge hit. A lot of the things he envisioned actually happened. ‘Big Brother is watching you’ is from that book, though many people who use the phrase these days, haven’t read the book, some don’t even know where it came from.

A couple of years ago Ben Elton had a George Orwell moment. He didn’t like what he saw, so he decided to copy him. Not original, but it’s better to steal a good idea than to come up with a bad idea yourself.

Elton’s world is a new world, after the flood. Privacy is considered perverse, everybody is constantly online, everybody is obliged to blog, and everybody is streaming several web cams at the same time. Not a moment for yourself.

The government and the church seem to have cooperated to create this new world. Most people work from home, though once a week one is obliged to go to an office, one could otherwise easily become a loner.

Elton created a horrible world, likely to show where the world we live in these days is heading for. YouTube is fun at times, but it is not necessary to make a movie from one’s life. Not everybody is interesting enough to write a good blog. Yet in the meantime we live in a world where thousands think that participating in a talent show on television is a good way to become famous, rich and therefore happy.

I’m afraid that most Elton fans will without fail like this book, but that the deeper message doesn’t get across to those who should find out that there is more to life than plastic surgery and fame.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though some of the starting points of the novel are not as obvious as Elton seems to make them in the book. Like in most books in this genre (Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and aforementioned 1984 by George Orwell, I still have to read Fahrenheit 451), there is one brave hero who dares to be different. Who understands that not everybody is the same and that there is more to life than sex and weekly record breaking fundraising concerts. He even finds that there are other books than self-help books, a category called literature, long banned by those in power. His marriage suffers for it, but since reading good books, his life has changed. It almost resembles a reverse Utopia.

I certainly am looking forward to Elton’s next book.

Quote: “’Have you got a problem with the fact that I’m a quarter Irish, a quarter Croatian, part Cornish and one-sixteenth Afro-Caribbean British?’ Princes Lovebud continued. ‘Because I’m proud of who I am’” (p.224)


Number: 09-007
Title: Blind faith
Author: Ben Elton
Language: English (UK)
Year: 2007
# Pages: 368 (1683)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-552-77390-4

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