Satire requires a very particular sense of humour, one where the reader is aware of current issues and able to take them to their most ridiculous level. It’s clever, observant, generally amusing, but not often laugh-out-loud funny.
By far, one of the most challenging in this genre would have to be L Ron Hubbard’s science fiction dekology (10 volume) Mission Earth which sees an alien race try to save our planet by slowly leaking technology into our society, all the while unaware of a fifth column trying to destroy the plan by stealth.
In Ken Saunders’ near-future world, that alien race would no doubt have given up in despair over where Australian society had reached by the year 2028. Saunders’ novel is not science fiction but rather, a sharp-eyed and witty commentary on where we are heading.
The action revolves around the political landscape leading up to an election where the Library party, lead by Prime Minister Fitzwilliams, is about to face its first actual election challenge in long, long time, namely from an unexpected grassroots party where everyone is named Ned Ludd.
This is a world where Australia Post delivers by remote control drones that double as cameras for news-hungry TV stations, while parking meters double as poker machines. ASIO has long since had its heyday, and Autocar has taken the country by storm, leaving actual driving as a quaint thing of the past. It’s not a difficult society to imagine as the next step along from today’s advancing technology and the tightening commercial grip on things.
Saunders has an easy, tongue-in-cheek style with a vivid imagination that is at once surprising yet somehow obvious. Nothing he concocts in his bizarre, dystopian future is beyond belief, particularly for the sceptics amongst us who are sure to savour his every word.
2028 is a comedic warning for this country to wise up. Saunders makes us laugh until we cry, which is the better option than crying before we laugh hysterically in only ten years’ time.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: September 2018
RRP: $29.99 paperback