Resolution Way by Carl Neville

Repeater, 2016, 395 p.

 Resolution Way by Carl Neville cover

Ah. The drawbacks of writing near future SF. In this novel Scotland seems to be independent (not that much is made of that) yet there hasn’t been a UK referendum on EU membership. What there is, is an extrapolation of what life might look like under a right wing regime which treats workers as scum and non-workers as even worse.

It seems at first to be about the attempt by Alex Hargreaves, writer of a novel called Gilligan’s Century which plagiarised earlier works but was excused by him as being a kind of remix, into the life and archive of disappeared (and thought dead) 1970s pop musician Vernon Crane. Hargreaves has come across one chapter of a novel written by Crane but knows other chapters were scattered among Crane’s friends. Hargreraves wants to publish it as his own. The tale is then broadened out by the use of a succession of different viewpoint characters, a strategy which serves to flesh out this future dystopia (though it doesn’t seem too much of a leap for society to get there as many of the harsher elements are incipient in the concept of austerity) showing it from various angles.

An example of present day trend extrapolation is that the employees of fast food franchise Heart of Chicken have to wear a plastic heart on their chests, an affective monitoring system which glows if they are happy, and if it doesn’t glow customers get a refund. Cue customers making employees lives miserable and the highest staff turnover rate in the world. (A similar technology is used in brothels.) Then there is the Community Giveback scheme where unproductive (or just unlucky) members of society have to work off debt or simply gain subsistence by it. This can extend into Permanent Giveback, when the recipients of this largesse by the state are obliged to have children so that they can pay off the debt.

It’s a horribly plausible description of a world where solidarity and fellow feeling have all but evaporated and public considerations have devolved into rampant individualism – and outright cruelty. About the only quotable phrase in the novel, though, is the rumination, “Music and love and sentimentality: dangerous drugs.”

The final section, titled Resolution, where we revisit the viewpoint characters in much shorter chunks, didn’t work for me and the alternative endings to characters’ stories we are provided with, as well as smacking of an author having his cake and eating it, did not chime with everything that had gone before. Even so Resolution Way has its moments and Neville inhabits his viewpoint characters’ heads convincingly. But, oh my…. What a list for Pedant’s corner.

Pedant’s corner:- “there were a small number” (there was a small number.) “5trhere were a series of adverts” (there was a series,) “‘he might have distributed things too’” (to,) “laying on his back” (lying – plus one more instance of laying where lying is the correct word) Hargreaves’ (x3, Hargreaves’s,) “the locked draw of his desk” (drawer,) “to take her mind of things” (off things,) Louise (elsewhere spelled Lewis, but this is the girl’s mother’s viewpoint and she is probably using Lewis’s given name rather than the version she may have chosen for herself,) “as a women” (woman,) “raise a few wains” (this West of Scotland word for kids is spelled weans,) “and slides into the machine” (slides it into the machine,) snuck (sneaked,) “a gaggle of schoolkids run” (a gaggle … runs,) “if he wanted too” (to.) “Ahh yes” (usually ‘Ah yes’,) “off in quiet corner” (in a quiet corner,) “some lingering anxiety about … have held her back” (some lingering anxiety … has held her back,) “a spectacularly attractive women” (woman,) unstaunchable (unstanchable,) curb (kerb,) “later on he has meeting” (has a meeting,) “stuck up a friendship with” (struck up,) Lewis’ (Lewis’s,) “of how not to be slave” (a slave.) “The same company that are trying” (that is trying,) “her work log and pen …. and lays it down” (and lays them down,) “the way the body is a whole, interconnected system” (no comma needed.) “That must have has soaked up ..” (either ‘must have’ or ‘has’; not both,) “so a series of …. have been set up” (a series .. has been set up,) “Peter’s has been” (Peters has been,) “to numerous players, each of whom use it in different ways” (each of whom uses it …,) “he’s had had to listen” (only one ‘had’ needed,) “not quite the young, brilliant billionaire though he was” (not quite the young, brilliant billionaire he thought he was,) focussed (focused,) “naught but a whisp,) (wisp,) waitress’ (waitress’s,) epicentre (centre,) “from the desk draw” (drawer,) whiskey (whisky,) Ferris’ (Ferris’s. I gave up noting these errant apostrophes much earlier in the book, this happened to be on the same page as another literal,) “let’s the petrol pour onto the rug” (lets the petrol. This – and the draw/drawer confusion earlier – are pretty unforgiveable mistakes to make,) “What’s left of his face begin to tremor” (begins,) “and a four rapid little taps” (and four rapid little taps,) “under and Immigration Threat Relocation Order” (under an Immigration Threat Relocation Order,) “as the crowd from the enclave head” (as the crowd … heads,) “she wants to give her mum piece of mind” (peace of mind,) a missing full stop at a section’s end, “with a dead Author” (author.) “He said that you would kill me to have me” (‘He said that you would kill to have me’ makes more sense.)

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