In a world where we have been genetically engineered so that we can photosynthesise sunlight with our hair, hunger is a thing of the past, food an indulgence. The poor grow their hair, the rich affect baldness and flaunt their wealth by still eating.
But other hungers remain ...
The young daughter of an affluent New York family is kidnapped. The ransom demands are refused. A year later a young woman arrives at the family home claiming to be their long lost daughter. She has changed so much, she has lived on light, can anyone be sure that she has come home?
Adam Roberts' new novel is yet another amazing melding of startling ideas and beautiful prose. Set in a New York of the future it nevertheless has echoes of a Fitzgeraldesque affluence and art-deco style. It charts his further progress as one of the most important writers of his generation.
In this off-kilter work, Roberts (New Model Army) mixes social commentary and science fiction, springboarding from one simple premise: in a future where people can use photosynthesis to live on water and sunlight, real food is the ultimate luxury and the gulf between the haves and have-nots is wider than ever before. While the narrative ostensibly focuses on the trials of a wealthy family whose daughter is kidnapped while on vacation, Roberts mostly uses his characters to explore a world of great dichotomy and simmering upheaval. A heavy dose of class warfare is blended with fear of the other, the societal atmosphere of F. Scott Fitzgerald mixed with the bleak insight of George Orwell. It's provocative, if ponderous and meandering, with some troubling content concerning the treatment of children. Striving to be literature, this story does little in the way of entertainment.