What might the near future be like? The City Inside has some ideas

(cover image courtesy Tor (c) Tordotcom Publishing)

Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture-power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family, fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors’ lives. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people. (synopsis courtesy Tor.com)

Samit Basu (image courtesy Tor.com (c) Sanghamitra Chakraborty)

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the real world is more than capable of coming up with scenarios that trump anything our fecund imaginations can come up with.

So, Reality 1, Imagination 0, at least when it comes to possible end of the world or dystopian possibilities.

Even so, writers never say never and so Samit Basu, a novelist, director-screenwriter, a comics writer, and columnist, has decided to ponder a world in which corporate capitalism is calling the shots.

It all takes place in his book, The City Inside, which Tor.com describes as “a near-future epic that pulls no punches as it comes for your anxieties about society, government, the environment, and our world at large [and] yet never loses sight of the hopeful potential of the future”.

Thankfully the unpredictability of the human spirit means that considerable forces might win out in the interim, people usually emerge on top; it just might take a while.

Lucky we have an entire novel then, isn’t it?

The City Inside releases 7 June , 2022 from Tordotcom Publishing.

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