Elton is a prolific writer and Blind Faith (ISBN 978-0-552-77391-1,
Black Swan books, 2007) is one of his newer efforts. This book delves into
futurology, with Elton putting forward a frightening doctrine which,
unfortunately, would appear to have quite some substance, looking at our
present world and the conflicts therein.
The plot revolves around the principal character Trafford
Sewell, born in a future age in which individuality has been bred out of the
society. The common good revolves around the universal religion, referred to
as “The Temple”, with “Confessors” placed in all communities to uphold and
reinforce the views of The Temple. This requirement to adhere to the
religion comes from the fact that the usable portions of the earth have
become so small after the global warming flood, and that the human psyche
needs an explanation. Returning to the pre-Christian era of retribution by
God is then used to explain the calamities.
In universally accepting the tenets of The Temple, some
of man’s achievements have to be rejected, including vaccination for
childhood diseases and the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. One result from
this is a 50 percent mortality rate for children up to the age of five.
Elton skirts around some of the current social taboos
when The Temple expounds on the desirability of young women to have breast
enlargement, as a reflection of the image of God, and how if a woman from
the ultra-orthodox families refused to have breast enhancement surgery she
would be drugged by their relatives and the augmentation performed. These
were known as ‘honor enlargements’. (Ring any bells for you?)
In any society there are always the ‘misfits’, and
Trafford shows some evidence of this, and is quietly co-opted into the group
known as the ‘Vaccinators’ who surreptitiously vaccinate newborn babies.
As Trafford begins to question his life and the reasons
it is such as it is, he begins the slide away from the tenets of The Temple
and shows individual thought, something which the religion will not allow.
He also looks at the society at large, “He knew that loyalties were paper-thin
and nobody was safe if the mob turned.” (Would you like to apply that to the
recent ructions in Bangkok?) He then goes from ‘mis-fit’ to ‘criminal’.
Ben Elton’s plot does make the reader think of Aldous
Huxley’s Brave New World, set in 2540, and George Orwell’s 1984, written 35
years before that date with its totalitarian thought and action in
controlling and subjugating people. However, the similarity ends there.
Elton’s future is probably even blacker and more oppressive than Huxley’s or
The denouement raises the concept of individual
selfishness, a proposal originally penned by another futurologist of note
Ayn Rand in The Virtue of Selfishness (1964).
The ending is sheer Joan of Arc and Edward Woodward’s
Wickerman combined. But there is a savior for mankind, and you will have to
read this book to find out. A powerful work from one of the more erudite
writers of today. It might not have received universal acclaim, but I
enjoyed it. At B. 350 it is a bargain as well!