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Author Topic: Now Ben Elton gets in on the act!!  (Read 1137 times)
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« on: March 28, 2009, 07:28:52 AM »

In Blind Faith, Ben Elton takes leaves from Orwell, the Inquisition and the Church of Scientology.

Blind Faith

by Ben Elton

367 pp, 2008 Black Swan paperback

Available at Asia Books and

leading book stores, 350 baht

Perhaps the earliest realisation of animals and man is that they cannot go it alone. They need to band with others of their species for purposes of defence, attack, security. Which means having to accept leaders, laws, the penalties for breaking them.

The price was to relinquish a degree of freedom, how big a degree has been an open question for 10 millennia, perhaps 10 times 10. Emperors and ecclesiastics demanded body and soul, presidents and prime ministers somewhat less. Thoreau at his pond, gurus in the forest or atop mountains are exceptions.

In 1984, Orwell based his police state on those with which he was familiar - Communist Russia and Nazi Germany. In later years, Khmer Rouge Cambodia and North Korea would have served as well. In Blind Faith, Ben Elton takes leaves from Orwell, the Inquisition and the Church of Scientology.

There has been another deluge and half of the UK is under water. A huge lake is beside London. The country is ruled by Bishop Confessor Solomon Kentucky, the Temple his seat of power. Confessor Bailey keeps the populace mindful of what is expected of them. Brother Redemption is the Inquisitor.

Christianity is the state religion, Islam the other (synonymous with terrorists outside the gates), sneaking in as suicide bombers. People wear skimpy clothes in sunny weather, even going topless. Crowds may accidentally brush one another, but deliberate touching is a no-no and may lead to a riot.

Privacy is a sin. Television monitors in every room enable everybody to see what everybody else is doing, day and night - from having sex to giving birth. The viewers make comments and converse with the viewed. The tone must be upbeat, "Praise the Love! Praise the Lord!"

Books contrary to Scriptures (e.g. Darwin's Origin of the Species) are burned. No medicines are permitted. Child deaths run to 50%. The population of the land is 24 million. Those taken go to heaven. "Do not grieve! Rejoice!"

The protagonist is Trafford Sewell, a civil servant who knows what is expected of him and plays the game - up to a point. A little shy, he is uneasy opening himself up just to satisfy others' curiosity. Why can't he keep a secret or two?

A new father, he doesn't want to lose his baby daughter, Caitlin Happymeal. Two epidemics are prevalent. He learns that vaccinations are available on the black market for mumps and measles and inoculates the child to the consternation of his wife, Chantorria. They prove effective.

Trafford is introduced to the Humanists, who like the Readers in Bradbury's 451 Fahrenheit treasure the classics, enabling our hero to read them. He meets and falls in love with Sandra Dee, who appears to be a kindred spirit, but he couldn't be more wrong.

Caitlin, thought a miracle child, does in fact die - of cholera, for which she wasn't vaccinated. Trafford and Chantorria are arrested for heresy.

Blind Faith isn't up to 1984 but will shake you up.

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