Book Review: Genesis

Author:   Bernard Beckett

Page Count:  185

Reviewed by:  Faith Wood

In a thought provoking tale, Bernard Beckett explores what the mystery of consciousness – what it means to be human.  In a future well into the 21st century, this science fiction thriller exposes an apocalyptic society which was (perhaps) undone by its own fears.

At first glance, I wondered why science fiction writers seem unable to find another source of entertainment rather than continuing to explore this fascination with robots.  However, as I spent an afternoon becoming immersed into the book, I discovered that its simple premise became more delightfully complex.

From the perils of leading a life through fear to Big Brother continually monitoring, Bernard Beckett never disappoints but rather challenges us to think for ourselves.

The story unfolds as Anaximander begins a panel style interview (an oral examination) for entrance into ‘The Academy’.   Anaximander has chosen the path of a historian, choosing to deliver the dissertation on a particularly poignant point in their history.

As Anaximander presents her thesis, readers are drawn into the story of a world (or society) that has been created on an island, protecting itself geographically from a great plague that has destroyed populations around the globe.  As the pages turn, Anaximander tells the tale of Adam (a soldier), who defies the laws of protection and becomes imprisoned for displaying compassion rather than strict compliance to orders when a young female visitor is discovered at the outer edges of the protected boundaries.   As a result of this crime, he is ultimately imprisoned in a room with a fast-thinking artificially intelligent life form.

From chapter to chapter, the story challenges bigger philosophical questions of what humanity really is and the concept of free will.    Is fear the real culprit of a society’s ultimate demise or rather the attempt to control one’s thoughts completely?

The story is difficult to review without revealing the twists and turns that captivates the reader and makes the story so enjoyable.  It is an easy read and I encourage you to dive into your own copy as you ponder those bigger questions.