I was asked whether I’d be interested in reading and reviewing Troy J. Grice’s latest novel, Gaiastan, and sent a copy for review. Back in 2010, I reviewed Grice’s book Indivisible on my old site, Militant Reviews (read that here). Knowing his talent and general choice of subject matter, I was more than happy to read this one.
Gaiastan can be summarized simply, but not thoroughly, in this way: it’s basically Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World except Al Gore is in charge. In a broad sense, the plot lines are roughly the same. Instead of taking soma, the unwashed masses are fed a daily Kool-Aid of propaganda and negative reinforcement, starting at birth. The story revolves around an insider who becomes an outcast and whose struggle for understanding carries through the book as he trips and stumbles his way into enlightenment.
The above paragrph is the simplest way I can describe Gaiastan without committing the faux pas of spoiling it.
The book begins with Indigo, part of a team of astronauts sent to Mars for the glory of Gaia (the earth government). The “space can” is on its way home from the expedition and of the half dozen or so occupants, only two are left. You get the hint that things went badly for the group, but aren’t told exactly what happened as it’s intricately tied to the primary support character, Staley. From there, the book progresses as the two spacemen land back on earth, are picked up by their government, and then paraded around. Staley gets progressively worse and Indigo struggles to stay sane as doubts and demons plague his thoughts – something considered unholy and “wrongminded” in Gaia.
Eventually, the two take a vacation to a remote outpost in the area where Indigo was raised as a child. Throughout this first portion of the book, you’re being introduced to the oddly familiar, but seriously whacked way that Gaiastan operates and the strange things that have lead up to its current state of affairs – including the approach of an impending ice age, brought on by Al Gore types hoping to “save the world” by heavily polluting it. Oddly, an idea that has been thrown around by scientists as a way to geo-engineer the planet to counteract global warming.
Eventually, of course, Staley has his breakdown and Indigo begins to settle in as a more or less permanent resident of the area and then, he too finds himself acting “wrongminded” as he continues on his path, doubting the way of things.
From here, the plot thickens and the pace picks up as the story’s main antagonist, the embodiment of all that is evil about Gaiastan, Mr. Lever enters the picture. The rest is a pure ride down twisting lanes of intrigue and revolution.