Monday, September 14, 2015

Agenda 21: No Action

Agenda 21, pp. 111-115

You're not going to believe this, but Chapter Seventeen actually has some tension in it. There's a sudden arrival at the door:

"Citizen," one of the Enforcers said, "where is Jeremy?"

"At work," I answered. "At Re-Cy."

"No, he's not. His supervisor contacted us. Jeremy's not here."

As Jeremy is AWOL, the Enforcers are about to search the room. Now, this is a bad situation for our hero. She is, after all, the daughter of a woman recently dragged off for being excessively "antagonistic." There is a large bag of contraband in the room (which she is sitting on to "guard it" - real inconspicuous). And she's been having regular chats with people she really shouldn't be - people she could implicate if she's not careful.

They opened the door to the washing-up area. They glanced into the eating space and the sleeping space. They checked the meter on my energy board. One of them glanced at the new energy cell on my thigh. When they were satisfied that Jeremy was not here, they stood in the doorway and frowned.

And then they leave. That's it.

Even now, halfway through a re-read, I am still amazed by the author's ability to avoid genuine drama. Keep in mind that this comes mere pages after all those ominous notes about the all-seeing nature of the Authority. And here we are, in a situation that would be terrifying in the hands of any capable hack writer, and it's over in seconds. You would have to put in effort to make this scene so painless.

It's moments like this that make me curious as to what the follow-up novel looks like. Without spoiling anything, it places Emmeline in a situation where Parke can't easily sidestep any action scenes that might come up.

The Enforcers return less than a page later, this time with news of Jeremy:

"He was found trying to climb the fence into the Children's Village."

And that's the end of Jeremy - he's taken away to a farm compound and we'll never see him again. Pretty unceremonious, but I can't say that I'll miss him. Unfortunately, this is going to kick off another long chunk of exposition. I can only think of one image terrifying enough to reflect my feelings on that:

Our furry overlords dictate that no action take place. Verify your understanding.

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