Anyone read Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thompson. Have just finished it on the train back from Dundee and was curiously unsatisfied, for a variety of reasons (none of which was the quality of writing itself) but I did manage to make the little lady burst out laughing in public when (acknowledging the hypocritical manner considering I’m the one saying it) I observed that my main problem was the implausibility of the premise. Basically, it’s a near future novel where the population of Britain are classified according to temperament and reassigned to one of four parts of the country, with strict border controls in between.
Somehow it felt flimsy, I think for the main part because I’ve got a degree in international relations, and ‘abroad’ wasn’t mentioned once. Other countries didn’t exist which made the setting metaphorically translucent, if that makes any sense at all! Considering you’re dealing with a social experiment on a part with Mao’s China, there wasn’t the infrastructure or central planning in place to deal with it, certainly not as effectively as the lack of chaos implies.
There’s a certain amount I can take on faith, but at least a nod towards the necessary elements existing would have been nice. It smacks of laziness on the part of the writer – admittedly, this is from the perspective of someone who’s having altogether too much fun constructing a hell for his own world to be healthy by any normal standards!
Now that I think about it, it reminds me of Oryx and Crake, a good writer using an SF setting but without the mindset to full explore logistics and implications. While I enjoyed O&C, I did rather get the feeling that I understood why Atwood doesn’t consider herself an SF writer, beyond the standard reason of not wanting to be called a geek and lose book sales because of what she writes. Fundamentally, she likes SF and is a very talented writer, but she’s not really good enough at writing SF to join the club. Yup, that’s what I said, not good enough. I never felt the world had any depth to it, nor that she’d spent long considering the impact and spreading ripples of her premise on everything else. Thompson is the same, a good writer, possibly even also published by Bloomsbury here but I can’t remember, but not rigorous enough in ideas to really match up to the genre he’s using, just getting away with it through writing talent.
Hey, good morning for me then! I started just talking about a book and ended up telling a bestselling elderly woman to fuck off because she’s not good enough to join my club! Classy.