Avant Nation by C D Verhoff started off a little too slow for my taste, and I nearly set it aside. I’m rather glad I kept at it! This book turned out to be a wonderful read. After the ‘set-up’ chapters, which were unfortunately full of data dumps, it really takes off.
This novel had hints of several of my favourite dystopic novels/movies scattered throughout. The most obvious is with the break-down of society into categories. Avantica has taken the genetic manipulation to an extreme. However, instead of being genetically ‘damaged’ from their specialisations, they are considered enhanced. The division names are not based on virtue traits, but attributes that can be either physical or psychological. Different divisions actually have physical trait differences, which begs the question, if we force evolution, have we not created new species?
Hints of Logan’s Run can be found in the notion of expiry dates, though these are internally enforced rather than the false roulette of Carousel. Passing tribute is made to Make Room! Make Room!/Soylent Green as well.
All notions of eugenics invariably leads me back to Khan and the supermen of Star Trek, and to the atrocities of the Nazi regime as it tried its own hand at genetic perfection. Avantica seems like a horrific place to live, stripped as its been of the most basic of human cultural and psychological needs. And cruel beyond belief to craft people exquisitely empathic to the suffering of others, hone them to medical professionals, and force them to set aside the essence of who they are in order to adhere to the Algorithm.
If you want a great read that will keep you brimful of questions, and make you rethink the dubious value of genetic engineering, be sure to check out C D Verhoff’s Avant Nation.