MAR­TIANS

Big Shop Of Hor­rors

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 224 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook

Au­thor Blythe Wool­ston

Pub­lisher Walker Books

In Ray Brad­bury’s The Mar­tian Chron­i­cles, most of the hu­man colonists even­tu­ally choose an Earth dev­as­tated by nu­clear war over the strange iso­la­tion of the Red Planet. But what hap­pens when life here be­comes as alien( at­ing) and in­hos­pitable as Mars? That’s the ques­tion posed by Blythe Wool­ston’s fourth YA novel, a shrewd satire of ram­pant con­sumerism that’s less about the death of the Amer­i­can Dream than death by the Amer­i­can Dream.

In the near fu­ture, teenager Zoë Zindle­man is forced into vir­tual slav­ery at Al­lMART, a pow­er­ful mega­corp with a re­sem­blance to a cer­tain US re­tailer. Re- named “Zero”, our hero­ine is sub­sumed into the cor­po­rate ma­chine, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the same loss of iden­tity felt by those Mar­tian set­tlers.

This is not new ter­ri­tory: it’s 25 years since Dou­glas Cou­p­land pop­u­larised the term “McJob” in Gen­er­a­tion X, and MAR­Tians can trace its her­itage through the likes of Chuck Palah­niuk and JG Bal­lard all the way back to Or­well and Hux­ley. But it’s an ef­fec­tive in­tro­duc­tion to dystopian sci- fi, and a cau­tion­ary tale for an age when the Cold War that fu­elled Brad­bury has mor­phed into an end­less, soul- crush­ing price war. Paul Kirkley

Blythe Wool­ston is named after a town in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia ( Blythe!), where her fa­ther was sta­tioned dur­ing WW2.

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