First published back in November of 2018, British author Guy Portman’s novel ‘Tomorrow’s World’ offered up a darkly humorous vision of our potential future, taking us from June of 2071 all of the way to September of 2200.

DLS Synopsis:
The future.  It’s a time of convenience, of integrated technology and social divide.  Life expectancy for those who can afford it has been extended to incredible lengths.  The mandatory retirement age is constantly shifting back and back.  Huge multinational corporations pull all the strings; the governments pandering to the dominating corporate bodies every request.

Artificiality is everywhere.  Food and drink are now geared to being environmentally friendly, one-hundred-percent sustainable, artificially-engineered sustenance produced for the masses.  Virtual Reality dominates humanities recreational activities, even as far as holidaying and experiencing crucifixion during the Easter period.

The chance of employment is becoming increasing scarce.  Routine tasks are now fully-automated by machines and robots with constantly evolving Artificial Intelligence.

Computers now manage our financial markets, transport systems, our entire economics.  The world is on the cusp of powerful supercomputers communicating with each other across the length and breadth of the globe, forming a single AI ecosystem, to control every facet of human existence.

In the United Kingdom, we meet twenty-eight-year-old virgin Terrence who in 2071 works at a car park, monitoring the regularity of car parking space usage.  Like with many in this new age of virtual reality, relationships and human interaction don’t come easy to Terrance.  His life has been a wholly unfulfilled one, drenched in mundaneness, with the eventual escape that retirement will offer constantly pushed further and further out of reach.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Terrence’s Uncle – Walter Van Dyk – has been working his way up the corporate ladder; fiscal reward, power and the lifestyle it fetches, his sole motivation in life.  From his escalating wealth, Walter has been able to take advantage of the life-extending advances which science is able to offer.  His lifelong affinity with Kung Fu has merely complimented what science has given him, keeping his mind and body trim, despite his advancing years.

Walter worships at the altar of materialism.  He has the firm belief you get out of life what you put in.  And what he gets out of life is everything and anything he desires.

Two separate lives, living across two separate continents.  Terrence and Walter’s paralleled existences in this manmade, technology-driven, technology-dependent world, are a vast gulf apart.  Their hopes and dreams, their goals and ambitions, the very drive that sees the years falling away behind them, are the very definition of polar opposites.

Only time will tell if underneath these infinitely contrasting lifestyles, there is anything that connects their existence.  One thing’s for sure, the future is anything but predictable…

DLS Review:
If you’ve encountered Guy Portman’s work before, you’ll be all too aware of the author’s pendant for dry wit with a perceptively acute edge of satirical social commentary lining the pockets of almost every smirk-inducing comment he pens.  Portman’s novel ‘Tomorrow’s World’ is certainly no exception.  In fact, it’s probably fair to say, the delivery of such satirical wit is ultimately one of the principal driving forces behind the entire novel.

In essence what we have is a story glimpsing elements of our (possible) future, mapped out at erratic intervals over the course of a little more than a century.  This world of tomorrow is wholeheartedly dystopian.  However, instead of casting a blanket of melancholy (as one might usually expect), Portman instead tells his vision through a tongue-in-cheek grin, scattering a thousand seeds of purposefully flamboyant predictions, which nevertheless feel that little too close to home for comfort.

Throughout the novel Portman exaggerates a vast array of elements which our modern-day lives are already edging towards.  Here he zeros in on all those first world gripes we have in order to produce a comical escalation of our shallow-frustrations in the future.  The end result of this produces nothing short of laugh-out-loud results.

Compensation-claim hover-hound drones are quick to spot a slight stumble, slip or fall, in the hope of chasing down the next no-win-no-fee claim.  Holidays no longer require lengthy travelling to be met with washout weather.  Instead one can just holiday in a virtual reality world of your choosing.  Irreligion is now the most popular belief system, despite it being wholly a non-belief.  US states are bowing down to pressure to be renamed to that of the corporate brands which reside in their territories.  Sexual orientation has become so complex and elaborate that it’s easy to become lost in the sheer volume of preferences the world must now cater for.  And then there’s virtual-dating role-play and its incorporation of teledildonics (don’t ask).

However, it’s how Portman has constructed the novel which is very possibly the most engaging aspect.  This century and a bit of our future is told through an entire novel’s worth of miniature vignettes of a sort.  Each one of these short and sweet micro-stories offers a small window into a particular aspect from that small slice of the future.  These micro-visions act like short-sharp chapters in the telling of the story as a whole; with each given its own title and angle on how this future world has developed and continues to develop.

As each chapter is absorbed and we edge further and further into the future, we are given a uniquely close-to-the-ground perspective of mankind’s technological evolution.  Portman purposefully leaves it up to the reader to put together the elements of the vignettes in order to produce a more complete picture of the state of human existence within this strangely-eccentric future.  Of course, humour plays a heavy hand in every entry.  But you still can’t shake the quietly muttered social commentary that accompanies each comical depiction of the way things are going.

For its imagination, originality and ingenious delivery, the novel more than accomplishes in its mission.  It’s so irresistibly easy to pick up and read the next quick-fire chapter.  It’s just so entertaining and cleverly provoking in a purely light-hearted manner. 

There’s a heck of a lot to like about the novel.  It’s packed with energy and satirical humour.  It never hints at getting weighed down with the issues it raises.  Instead it throws its ideas, ponderings and warnings out there in a maniacal scattergun approach.

And I bet you at least some of Portman’s wacky and humorously exaggerated predications actually come true.

The novel runs for a total of 213 pages.

© DLS Reviews



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