Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: "The Day the Pod Landed" by Jeff Cross

     What does our increasingly-consumerist society have in store (pun intended)? A future in which corporations have their own armies and invade villages and other corporations to expand their brand, according to "The Day the Pod Landed" by Jeff Cross, which can be read over at Redstone Science Fiction. (Spoilers follow, so go read it first.) These corporations dazzle the vanquished with shopping malls and well-paying jobs, they give them products the likes of which the villagers have never before seen. It's an appealing prospect for Sofia, a villager who has always had higher aspirations.

     But despite Sophia's intelligence and marketing abilities, she's still just a villager, not one of the "big boys." When the corporation decides that profitability is no longer sustainable at the village due to an enemy corporation's attack, she is left behind like all the rest.

     Now, I know some will say that the metaphors are a little heavy-handed, that this vision of the future is rather far-fetched. But who has forgotten the mercenary armies of Halliburton and other defense companies, hired guns who killed in order to protect profits? Is the day when a corporation declares itself an independent entity, free from the regulations of any nation, really too far away? Or, as indicated by Cross, when nations themselves become corporate entities?

     Here is another great example of science fiction not really being about the future at all. It is about the here and now but, because of the speculative wrapping, readers are allowed to look at their own culture from the outside. They are able to see that, given slightly different circumstances, unrestrained capitalism can lead to very dark places indeed.

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