Chimpanzee By Darin Bradley
Underland Press Released August, 2014
It’s a future only too possibly real as the US economy has collapsed and the government doesn’t have the money to keep things running. Even something as simple as clearing a road blocked by a landslide is more than the government can cover and they look for outside investors to try and raise funds to clear the road and keep things moving. Homes are left vacant in vast numbers as families try to live on limited incomes left over after massive job shutdowns and layoffs. They are often given only a few weeks to move out when banks foreclose and leave houses sit vacant, often for years.
In this not so Brave new World, we find Dr. Benjamin Cade, a recently laid off professor of Literature at the local university. And with his new found lack of employment comes an additional fate: he cannot pay his student loans and must submit to mandatory Repossession Therapy required by law as the government won’t let him keep his knowledge without payment. These sessions of chemo therapy and electro-dissection drain the memories from Cade and alter his awareness of his life as even the memories of his wife are stripped from him.
As he participates in mandatory Homeland Renewal Service (the modern equivalent of Welfare), Cade comes in contact with members of the government who aren’t quite what he expected. Following repossession, Cade is detached, distracted and altogether a dark brooding individual who’s main wish is to sit at the local bar and drink himself senseless. In the course of his brooding he is talked into teaching classes in the local park for whoever wants to come hear him, a true soapbox event. As the class size grows, Cade find himself confronted by government agents who basically state his class is disruptive to the common peace and he will stop now. Or else. And in a world where the government sets its own people to ”monitor” the activities of their neighbors for unauthorized activities, Cade stops the formal class. However his students have heard something in Cade’s lessons that spark a light of rebellious fervor. Cade is welcomed into an underground lifestyle where people removed from their prior world by government forces exist outside the normal boundaries. Cade is even paid for his services in a new currency based on a barter system, paid for his teaching for as long as he continues to remember what it is he is trying to teach.
As all of this dark existence moves forward, Cade is introduced to “chimping,” a new form of virtual reality that seem to take information directly from your brain and put it on display. There is a hint that Cade’s repossessed memories will be put online for all to experience so all his students can progress in thinking for themselves, something in short supply in this world. But the novel ends before the revelation of where Cade’s memories finally wind up after being stolen from the government.
Chimpanzee is a dark brooding novel of a future that might well come to pass the way things are moving at the moment. It holds an interesting view of reality and how people might, or could, react to this level of oversight and control by government forces. There is little humor and the characters are, as a group, rather distasteful in their personalities, but they are the kind of people who could survive in a world where the government can literally take your mind from you.