Golden State by Ben H. Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm always a BIG fan of science fiction that girds its loins in the heaviest armor and strides boldly into the darkest, most complicated territories. The more ambitious the novel, the more props I am absolutely forced to give it. :) Of course, it has to also blow me away, but the core courage and not just good writing has to shine through for me to WOOOOOOOO!!!! ;)
It's easy enough to say this is a panopticon where every last bit of our modern lives in this future Utopian California resembles 1984, but it's closer to say it's a slightly different take on The City & the City. Where the other novel is focused on keeping a lie going that separates two overlapping worlds, Winter's police drama is focused on the deeply ironic law that places Truth on the highest pedestal. It's ironic because while all falsehoods are immediately found out and punished thanks to the uber-surveillance State, the Golden State's history is shrouded in mystery. And fiction is utterly subversive despite the deeper truths within it.
White lies carry heavy sentences. Acting is an unheard-of crime.
We follow an old cop whose job is to ferret out lies and watch as his world unravels before him. The mysteries are well-thought out and a perfect foil for the premise. I totally enjoyed the traditional mystery aspects as much as the hardcore social SF.
So is this just another Big Idea dystopian in utopian colors? It might seem that way, but Winters pulls off one hell of a great and *important* read without treading on any other novel's toes. :) No re-hash.
This is about taking on TRUTH head-on. :) Well worth the read!
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