Wednesday, 12 March 2014

News from the Squares by Robert Llewellyn

In News from Gardenia Robert Llewellyn explored the idea of a society more advanced than our own. We saw through the eyes of Gavin Meckler, an engineer, who finds himself inexplicably catapulted into the distant future by a freak meteorological anomaly.

News from the Squares sees Gavin, stranded once more in a futuristic and bewildering age, in which he has no place. What I like about Llewellyn's fiction is that it is intelligently written and well considered. Meckler spends much of his time wandering around baffled, in much the same way that Douglas Adams had Arthur Dent wandering the galaxy.  You can't help but like Gavin Meckler.  He seems like one of those chaps without a nasty bone in his body. Much of the humour comes from Meckler's surprise at each new revelation this new earth has to offer. Yet the book comes across as an exploration of gender roles and even the hapless Gavin realises that he has deep seated prejudices that he never knew were there. This alternative earth is run by women, it is a patriarchal society. There are no wars, no poverty and all disease has been eradicated. Perhaps this is somewhere Gavin can settle? Yet he soon discovers that all is not well in this potential utopia. There is still room for hatred and anger but why is so much of it directed at him?

I devoured this novel voraciously, so it's fair to say the author's narrative gripped me. There's a refreshing gentleness to the Llewellyn’s work that you don't often see. This equates to not a great deal of action and no sex or violence, if you're looking for that go elsewhere. If you want a novel that'll guide you teasingly through a future filled with hope then try this excellent novel.

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