Science fiction and fantasy
A Destiny of Fools
by Ejner Fulsang
In the world created by Ejner Fulsang children are so rare they have to be kept under guard. There is even a Department of Reproduction to ensure that women are inseminated every month, and such a thing as fertility card fraud to penalise those who do not at least try to become pregnant.
Sophie Zapata is a well-known reporter for The Times. At 26 she's something of a rarity, since there are so few people of her age, and it looks as though her generation will be the last. She's covering the story of John Wesley Nydegger, a serial killer due for execution. But when she goes to watch his electrocution, some things seems amiss. Convinced that his death has been faked, she decides to investigate further.
Sophie meets up with Percival Hendricks, a man who seems to know the full story behind Nydegger's death and his connection with the sterility plague. But before Hendricks can spill the beans, agents from the Department of Reproduction start shooting at them. Before long Sophie is on the run as a wanted woman, fleeing for her life.
A Destiny of Fools proceeds at a cracking pace. There's a sense of the tension of a society on the threshold of breakdown, where depopulation means that civilization is giving way to the wild once more. Suburbs are becoming frontier territory with no-one to police them. The body-count is high, almost as though the imminent end of the human race has not caused life to be held any dearer than it was before.
This novel is peppered with Biblical references. Nydegger believed himself to be the new Adam, whereas Sophie has recurring dreams of Hell in the form of Dante's Inferno. These references aren't about preaching religion and scripture, so much as highlighting themes that always have resonance: of beginnings, and of our hereditary nature, be it good or evil.
The concept behind A Destiny of Fools is fresh and original, particularly when overpopulation and overcrowding are things we take so much for granted today. The science behind this story is well researched, to the extent that it doesn't require much suspension of disbelief. This is realistic science fiction rather than science fantasy. But more importantly, this is a well-written and entertaining novel with an exciting plot that will have you hooked until the last page.
20th September 2006
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