Monday, 4 April 2016

The Bearer of Grievances by Joseph McKinley

Back in February I read and reviewed the first release from Unsung Signals (Winter by Dan Grace – in case you missed it). So when the next book was introduced to my inbox and I read the premise, I was deeply intrigued. 

The Bearer of Grievances is a collection of eight short stories that explore futuristic bureaucracy and technology that is out of control. The reader is first introduced to a shady pharmaceutical corporation who have developed a drug that takes away your bad and aggressive memories. 

In the quite terrifying future that McKinley presents, technology is at the forefront of everything. Drone delivery services, genetically engineered bureaucrats run the world and there is a form to fill in for everything. 

The eight stories explore different areas of this new, technology driven civilisation and they demonstrate the far reaching powers of the corporation behind it all. 

My favourite of all of them was the title story The Bearer of Grievances. With a Mad Max vibes it tells of an ex-prisoner who has been reassigned with the task of exacting revenge for people’s grievances. He is supplied with weapons and a motorbike and can hear the voices of the aggrieved in his head and know his target instinctively. It really sets the tone for how much anger even one human being can harbour, and how it can affect behaviour. 

Most of the stories were quite heated in tone but they were also darkly comic and I really enjoyed the black humour running throughout. This is heavily sci-fi based and with so much technology, I must admit that some of the really techie stuff went over my head. But it sounded really cool and fits right in to the quirky nature of the stories. 

Another part of this scary new future involved masses of paperwork; a form for everything and levels upon levels of administration and bureaucracy. I actually just started a new admin based job which comes with a lot of form-filling and paperwork and I couldn’t help but see the irony in what I reading compared to reality. 

If you like unnerving sci-fi or dystopian depictions of the future then this is a short and snappy read that is actually quite thought-provoking. Once again, Unsung Signals has introduced something a little weird, a little dark yet very entertaining and I’m looking forward to what comes next!

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