Ten thousand minutes and counting
By Stephen Oram
Published by Silverwood Books
Amber is young and ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has. It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.
Fluence is a story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It’s the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.
This was a very thought provoking read. Here we have an imagined world (not so far away from the one we currently live in) where individuals compete on social media for Fluence points. At the end of the year scores are then added up and colour graded according to the number of points achieved. The colour an individual is awarded is fixed for a year and dictates their social status and class. It controls every aspect of their lives, including where they live and who they socialise with
Amber and Martin work at the same place – the Bureaucracy – as part of a disability assessment team. Their job is to determine whether people are fit to work, or if they need to be supported by the government. There are Fluence points to be gained for good job performance, keeping those disability figures down – so there’s a conflict of conscience straight away. Gain points by reducing the numbers on government support, or make an honest assessment to assist those less fortunate.
Amber is both knowledgeable of how the system works and very focussed. She plays to win, her only goal to increase her colour level and social status within society. Martin, however, is tired of the game, happy to stay in Green but concerned his score is currently in freefall. He is struggling.
The story, although central to these two characters who are at different ends of their game, also shows the bigger picture. Here we have a world where people are pitched against each other.. One man’s rise means another man’s downfall. At the end of the day if being a winner is to the detriment of someone else – can your conscience live with this? Or has the system conditioned you not to care?
I would like to thank the author for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism. I really enjoy taking a sideways look at our world and thinking, “what if,” and then writing about it through speculative fiction.
Ecopy of the book x 2