Health is the absence of disease, no and no less You can t be healthy than healthy The prologue continues in an overblown, artificially grand sounding declamatory style, which so set my teeth on edge that I immediately googled the purported author, only to find that Heinrich Kremer does not exist, at least not as the author of a treatise on health as principle of governmental legitimisation He did exist once, as a German inquisitor of the 15th century.
Oh, OK, so this is a spoof, I geddit Unfortunately, it is also the premise for this future world one in which the health police have taken over and run an over efficient Nanny state in which any kind of behaviour that might be a risk to health is forbidden, in which the citizens are expected to keep tabs on and report their blood count, sleep patterns, nutrition diary, blood pressure, urine samples, sport profiles etc etc etc.
Another admission I ve only read 30 pages, but so far there is no explanation of how we got from here to there I mean most New World Orders need some kind of previous cataclysm to warrant their existence, something like a world wide war, or a devastating environmental disaster, disease, pestilence, whatever Something adequately destabilizing which makes the formation of a totalitarian state vaguely plausible Juli Zeh will probably claim that this is not meant to be a realistic vision of the future, but rather a model to examine what the consequences of state control of our health might be But I can t help feeling that she is tilting at the wrong windmills It may well be true that there is a kind of health brigade that try to persuade us that we can be even healthy than healthy, but usually it s no than a marketing ploy to push some spurious health giving product, super food or anti oxidant, or a wellness programme that is mostly designed to part me from my money how will that make me feel better.
It s true that there are numerous government campaigns to persuade us to eat fruit and veg, lose weight, quit smoking and so on, but the only reason why these campaigns are numerous and strident is precisely because governments are well aware that the three single measures that would improve the general health of the nation in one fell swoop are absolutely unthinkable All any government really needs to do is make smoking, alcohol, and cured meat illegal There you go Easy Er, no Because the one sacred value of our Western democratic world, the one that outweighs all the rest put together, is freedom The freedom to fuck your life up any way you want to The totalitarianism of this model is getting in the way of what might have been a sensible appraisal of how to curb spiralling health care costs Next 3.
5 stars or 7 10A stylish addition to the dystopian future genre in the tradition of Orwell s 1984 Juli Zeh s version looks at society in the mid 21st century a society completely obsessed with health, which has spawned a new political system The Method which requires citizens to comply with daily exercise, abstain from tobacco, alcohol etc This is all tracked through accessing the data chip every citizen has implanted, and any deviation from this is considered a crime or, worse, an act of terrorism.
The book opens with the main character, Mia, grieving the death of her brother, who fell foul of the system What follows is then an account of Mia, previously an advocate of The Method, gradually and grudgingly taking up the fight against the system.
I liked the way this book was written in its omniscient narrator style, not a method I usually warm to The interaction between Mia and Kramer, the arch villain of the book, are done very well, and to me were reminiscent of 1984 s Winston Smith and O Brien Overall, it was a very enjoyable read, and a very credible nightmare vision for the future of Western society The only frustrating thing, at least to me, was that the central event of the novel the death of Mia s brother s girlfriend is never explained adequately I guess I should just accept that the reader has to make up their own mind about this, but I am the sort of reader who always wants to know these things for sure This is the second book I have read by Juli Zeh translated from the German , the other being Dark Matter I have enjoyed both, and will be looking for This story is set in the future, in the middle decades of this century Juli Zeh imagines a scenario where the governments of the world have abandoned all political systems except one the Method All industry that damages the air or soil quality has ceased and the primary focus is on maintaining optimum health in the population by means of strict controls of food, drink, drugs, health, hygiene, exercise and genetic data People live in controlled areas and anywhere beyond those areas is considered potentially contaminated, and therefore forbidden A lot of things are forbidden Zeh has created an extreme version of the Nanny State where the individual matters little except in relation to the group and reason has replaced religion.
The style tripped me up at the beginning There is a lot of dialogue and it rarely sounds natural At first I thought this might be a translation problem but then I began to imagine the novel as a play and suddenly, it worked for me The dialogue is like a set of speeches the characters s words sound like they are meant to be declaimed, like a series of perfect sound bites The action of the novel could easily take place on stage too, as there are very few characters and a limited number of settings I think it would work very well as a provocative piece of theatre.
The plot is interesting, even intriguing in some places There were a few details that weren t sufficiently explained but that may have been my failure to understand some of the finer points The main characters are sparsely drawn but nevertheless, I found them all realistic except for one, Heinrich Kramer, the originator of the Method, whose multi functional role in the plot I found unlikely On another level, however, I could see how he fitted in Every story needs a likeable devil.
This is the first book by Zeh that I really liked Normally I m not a fan of the genre of dystopia, but this is a very successful example I think it even is a nice 21st century variant on Huxley s Brave New World Especially the basic concept a world in which physical health takes precedence above all else and everyone therefore has to follow the method very strictly is cleverly worked out And, of course, the intrigue runs around the people who cannot live with that coercion But fortunately, Zeh does not present a completely black white portrait of this world the rebellious good ones also have their drawbacks and the ruling Methodists mostly can also see the negative sides of their system Also positive is that the book is short enough to stimulate the reflection on the problem of regulation and free will, without to be pushy which was the case in the previous books by Zeh I only questioned the role of the ideal lover in the beginning, which to me is an annoying magical realistic element, and especially questioned the role of Heinrich Kramer who is presented as a kind of supreme authority, but also acts as a very hypocritical journalist A journalist as Supreme Conscious of the world The chills are running down my spine A dystopia in the true sense a satire funny and poignant Well paced, this book avoids boredom by refusing to waste time with world building.
A modern version of Orwell s 1984, combined with themes from Kafka s classic The Trial, the novel published in 2010 depicts a totalitarian society where health is sacred and the belief in science absolute The story is fast paced and combines a scifi setting with a crime story which works really well The book raises important questions about individual rights vs state power and the matter of state imposed health is highly relevant today given our increasing obsession with a healthy lifestyle.
Mia Holl Lives In A State Governed By The Method, Where Good Health Is The Highest Duty Of The Citizen Everyone Must Submit Medical Data And Sleep Records To The Authorities On A Monthly Basis, And Regular Exercise Is Mandatory Mia Is Young And Beautiful, A Successful Scientist Who Is Outwardly Obedient But With An Intellect That Marks Her As Subversive Convinced That Her Brother Has Been Wrongfully Convicted Of A Terrible Crime, Mia Comes Up Against The Full Force Of A Regime Determined To Control Every Aspect Of Its Citizens LivesThe Method, Set In The Middle Of The Twenty First Century, Deals With Pressing Questions To What Extent Can The State Curtail The Rights Of The Individual And Does The Individual Have A Right To Resist Juli Zeh Has Written A Thrilling And Visionary Book About Our Future, And Our Present The books is advertised as a dystopian science fiction novel, but what it resembles is a philosophical treatise, presented in the form of a polylogue between people with various convictions and backgrounds, which make the thoughts three dimensional The story is there only to give their positions weight This is something Western philosophy has done since Plato and should do often But, understandably, if you decide to read Plato or Berkeley s Hylas and Philonous, for example for their narrative qualities, you may not understand why other people think so highly of them For me, it was the other way round Some of the plotpoints toward the end almost got a star off this book, but then I decided to keep it, as the philosophy, the language and also the anchoring of various thoughts in human types was so much better than f ex the thought experiments of quite a few highly acclaimed moral philosophers who present us with much worse stuff under the guise of academic philosophy So quite clearly, this is not the book to be picked up at random and definitely not one for a reader of science fiction, which probably explains many of the relatively low marks given to it by other readers And clearly it is not for a tired evening after lots of work This is the second book I ve read by Juli Zeh the first was Dark Matter, which I also liked a lot , and I hope to read.
1 2 Sternchen Pathetisch und z h Keine St hle stehen am nicht vorhandenen Tisch Unter dem Fenster macht sich die Ermangelung einer Schlafst tte breit, w hrend kein Schrank die fehlenden Regale zur H lfte verdeckt Der restliche Raum wird vollst ndig von klinischer Sauberkeit eingenommen S 202