In Special, Georgia Blain imagines a world not too far removed from what is possible now.
A world before ‘The Breakdown‘.
A world where data is the new currency and where genetic modification is the norm. For some.
For everything has a price. Even our individual identity.
Especially our individual identity.
A world where being special isn’t all its cracked up to be.
Special pays literary homage to Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, even down to the ambiguous future-looking end.
Special didn’t induce that overwhelming feeling of fury and fear like A Handmaid’s Tale did when I first read it as a young woman.
Perhaps I’ve became more jaded as I’ve got older?
Or maybe it was the strong feminist messages that Atwood conveyed that captured my imagination?
Blain’s protagonists are female, but the message is not necessarily a feminist one. Her futuristic genetically modified world affects everyone – male, female, young and old. The issues are ones of humanity.
What makes us unique? The effects of nature versus nurture – or in this case, genetics versus environment.
The Lotto Girls are genetically designed with the best possible characteristics on offer. They are given the best possible living conditions and education. They are expected to fulfil their promise.
The premise of Special is fascinating because it feels so possible, so close to the path we seem to be on. Datastreaming rules this new world. It’s a constant distraction as well as a way of keeping tabs on everyone. Without your mobie and your datafile, you have no access to food, work or shelter. To be datawiped and sent to Recorp or PureAqua is considered the worse thing that can happen to you.
Which sounds just like our house when the wi-fi crashes!