It is a minor part of the whole novel, but the thing I remember most clearly is a scene where the protagonists end up in a cafeteria area - there is some exposition about how these cafeterias exist because food is forbidden to keep, make or serve except by licensed professionals - so people could go to restaurants, or else they could visit these cafeterias for basic food (cheap or free, since everyone must eat). Because ordinary people "can't be expected" to know nutrition or serve sensible healthy meals, so "it was wiser" to have them centrally controlled - analogous to control of medicines. There may have been some reference to historical obesity or nutritional effects from poor food choices being the driving force behind the laws.

Beyond that, the novel was set in the near future, the government had turned into a totalitarian state with little accountability and a lot of control, all sorts of dystopic elements. There was a different area which was free (possibly in rebellion, possibly just a different place, different laws), there is a deliberate contrast between the two settings. I'm pretty sure the places were physically separate, needed specific transportation - hover vehicles, I think I recall hover bikes at one point, and possibly space ships as well - but they might have been different continents, or different planets.

As far as the plot goes, I don't recall a lot of detail... there's a main character, a woman, and I think she gets blamed or accused of some crime - pretty sure she's innocent. Previously mentioned dystopic elements show themselves, as to be accused in this country is to be guilty, there's no appeal, no trial, no recourse against the government blaming her - she will just get disappeared and executed. She ends up investigating on her own since she can maybe get not-blamed if there's someone else to actually blame, but they're not going to investigate because they don't care. Shenanigans happen, possibly explosions, and she gets caught up with a man and/or a group who are from the free place - possibly the trail of the crime leads there, or else they're escaping to or through there.

Lots of comparisons between the societies, including free state versus a nanny state, and of course in practice all the restrictions do not actually make the nanny state safer (higher crime commonplace, lack of self defense options, things like that). Possibly there's a freedom of religion thing, religious objection to something and someone from the controlled place questioning it since the person isn't registered to one of the religions that has a registered objection to the whatever and person from the free place questioning why it isn't enough that he believes it - but I might be mixing that with another book. In the end, possibly she proves her innocence, possibly she gives up, possibly she ends up joining those who did (overthrowing the controlled state?) - but I think she ends up staying in the free place, plus or minus some fighting back against the government of the place she came from.

I'm pretty fuzzy on a lot of these plot details, I'm pretty sure of the general gist, but I'm not coming up with a lot of details on stuff like what the crime was, what was different between the societies (except generally free vs controlled), or even who the characters are. The cafeteria scene is pretty minor in the book, just one detail of the type of control the government has, but I remember it pretty clearly because it seemed both so outrageous, and also sort of terrifyingly plausible to eliminate all options as a result of not trusting people to make good decisions, or any decisions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.