Radicalized is a no holds barred look at the major issues plaguing our modern day society, incorporating science fiction and technology elements into smart, on point storytelling. I couldn’t put it down, marveling at how well he is able to discuss and breakdown issues like income inequality, racial profiling, a corrupt health system, and the effects of an apocalypse.
The book splits its stories into four standalone novellas:
Unauthorized Bread is a multi-faceted story, showing us a future where everything is monetized, benefitting corporations at the expense of the working poor who inhabit low-rent apartments. We see the absurdity of a system like this and watch as one woman leads the way to overcoming this restriction on behalf of her neighbors. It’s also spotlights the life of a refugee in the United States, showing the difficulties they face throughout the painstaking process.
Model Minority expands the superhero narrative to include the ever-present racial divide in America. We see a superhero called the American Eagle who flies into an instance of police brutality. What ensues is the result of a corrupt and racist system, causing the public to turn against the American Eagle and the man he’s trying to defend. This is smart writing, showing the corruption at home and its rampant disregard of freedom for all.
Radicalized details the health insurance crisis, showing a group of cancer support group members who target insurance companies and senators bent against improving healthcare. It’s a pretty terrifying novella, showing the desperation the existing system creates in people who want the healthcare they’ve paid for.
The Masque of Red Death is a post-apocalyptic tale, following a man who spent years planning for the end and built himself and thirty others a high-tech, fully stocked shelter. We see the desperation build in each of the inhabitants as events of the world come down upon them. It starts as a tale of survival and ends showing us that surviving isn’t worth forgetting your humanity.
Overall, Radicalized is a brilliant use of science fiction to tell stories we need to hear. It’s incredibly inventive and insightful, giving us a glimpse at multiple futures that unfortunately don’t seem far from our own.
By Cory Doctorow
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.