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Blue Friday

Mike French

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Elsewhen Press

Published : 2012

Copyright : Mike French 2012

ISBN-10 : PB 1-908168-07-2
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-908168-07-8

Publisher's Write-Up

In the Britain of 2034 overtime for married couples is banned, there is enforced viewing of family television (much of it repeats of old shows from the sixties and seventies), monitored family meal-times and a coming of age where twenty-five year-olds are automatically assigned a spouse by the state computer if they have failed to marry. Only the Overtime Underground network resists.

Dystopian science fiction, Blue Friday tells of a future where many live in fear of the Family Protection Agency, a special police division enforcing the strict legislation that has been introduced to protect the family unit. Combining dark humour with a vision of the future that is almost an inverse of the classic dystopian nightmare of 1984, the latest novel from Mike French follows in the tradition of great Speculative Fiction satirists such as Jonathan Swift.

Mike's novel is thoughtful, while at the same time prompting a wry smile in the reader. It reverses the usual dystopian vision of a future regime driven by productivity and industrial output at the expense of family, demonstrating that the converse may be no better.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (310113) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
Blue Friday is a view of a world where the concept of family is at the centre of all government policy. Adults are forced to marry; if you have not found someone, then you are allocated a partner by a government computer system, and once married, you are expected to have children within a certain time frame. For the married working overtime is against the law and results in sanctions, the most extreme form being an enforced retirement from life.

Incentives are lacking in a society where the productivity of the employed society is less important than the mandated family-friendly scheduled TV of each evening. Married people are physically ejected from their workplace at 5pm and made to go home, but there is an underground movement which assists those who wish to appear more productive and thus gain promotion, incentives ironically still available, should you be able to access them.

The narrative opens with Charlie, working after 5pm, and found in his office within moments by two enforcers who physically remove him from the building, bumping into Lieutenant Trent as they leave. It turns out the Charlie is not only working a few minutes over, but is an individual at the heart of the movement to break the law and work outside the standard hours. Charlie’s behaviour has a profound effect on those who interact with him during this episode, and it turns out that there are greater plans afoot which rely on other individuals being brought into the movement.

Reading this after Christmas, when the ideas and imagery of ‘quality family time’ are thrust down our throat in every form of media, it seems appropriate that in the drive to force people to spend quality time with their family, the government has legislated on working time.

There are lots of little interesting things in the world of Mr French, from retro-TV to (slightly disturbing) computer simulated reality. I like the Orwellian take on life in the 21st century, and the little excerpts from Definitions for a Modern World are pure satire, to those of us growing up during the selfish yuppie years, they could almost be affirmation poster slogans.

You know when you read something that works on more levels than you think your brain can take in, and it leaves you wondering how many images or references you missed, but it really does not matter because you liked it anyway? I think that this might be one of those books that stays with you for a while, with the appreciation of certain images being all the more unexpected for their cropping up some time after you have read the book. I have always managed to avoid the London Underground at Rush Hour, but the idea of a carriage full of people hopped up on overtime drugs with magic markers and brainstorming is a charming image that I think I like better than the prospect of having my nose in someone’s armpit.

This is a very current piece of literature, writing about underemployment in a recession, where people may want to work more but are unable to, and yet at the same time, I find myself confused about why enforced family time is not necessarily a bad thing. Once again, I am not sure that I understand all that Mr French is saying, but I do like the way that he goes about saying it.
Chrissi (31st January 2013)

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