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2030, Albert Brooks

2012/02/12

With a title like “2030,” there’s a good chance that many who read this novel will automatically draw comparisons to “1984” and its string of projected incidents which have become reality. And indeed, the premise of “2030” draws strongly on the indications of today American society — financial chaos, the consequences of extended life through healthcare and higher standards of living, the shrinking working generation and the burgeoning senior and retirees. In this novel, one of the primary movements is amongst the young people, who are shouldering the burden of caring for the “olds” and are now rebelling against the costs of education, of healthcare, having been told that they must take out loans which can never be repaid in their current situations — something that could have been lifted from the headlines describing any of the recent Occupy movements. Add into the plot a devastating earthquake which destroys the infrastructure and wealth of an entire coast; a push by a medical genius to solve problems of aging such that people could live to be over one hundred fifty years old; and a political system thoroughly broken by greed and egocentricism, and you have a pretty good picture of Brooks’ fictional future America.

Reading this book is a little painful because it does reflect some of the current lines of thinking that I’ve heard tossed about, even in passing or in jest. Seeing how these ideas might play out, even in fiction, is horrifying. One interesting conversations in the novel is about halfway through, when the leader of the young organization Enough is Enough meets with an older Dr. Masters, who specializes in mercy euthanasia for the functionally brain dead and terminally ill. Brooks also creates a number of solutions to the problems in his America, including pilotless jets, cruise ships that are designed to be long-term housing facilities for the olds, an enterprising Chinese doctor who designs a healthcare system based on robotics. It is a fascinating book, and well worth reading.

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