Publisher: Apeiron Editions
Released: January 1, 1983
This is a novel by a contemporary Greek author... a different kind of fiction or a new expression of the everlasting human tragedy.
Return to the Future was a recommendation which came up in the context of philosophical sci-fi, and yup. It does fit the bill.
This is a very interesting book, and unlike anything I’ve read before. The setting is a future world in which everything (with one or two exceptions) is literally figured out. Everything is done, judged, and rated by numbers. Birth, life, death, and everything in between is quantified and optimised according to how things should be. It’s perfect. So why is it that people seem to be clinically unhappy?
This is the backdrop in a story which does a lot of interesting exploration. The story managed to keep things interesting without taking sharp turns, and does a very good job at gradually building up to a conclusion. Great questions are raised around the concept of absolute perfection in every aspect of human life, and interesting points are brought up challenging the idea that a world without “bad” would be the ideal world. The book presents a world which runs like clockwork, and demonstrates what might happen to such a world when imperfections, reminiscent of the world we live in today, are re-introduced into this perfect machinery. We get to see two extremes, and the transition between them. The book manages to simultaneously point out how messed up our current world is, and how messed up the world would be if we tried to make everything perfect.
There is also the aspect of how absolute good will ever be able to deal with any adversity at all, which forced me to think about, and challenge, my own views on how I would like society to deal with what one might call “evil”. I realise that my general opinion of “we should fight bad with good” might be naive at the best of times, and while this book doesn’t rebut this point, it demonstrates its potential absurdity in a very thought-provoking way.
All in all Return to the Future is a short read which I think will give something to everyone. While I’m not sure whether it was the intention of the author, I’m left thinking about how no one has the right answers to anything, and if anyone thinks they do, they are probably wrong. If we think we have something completely figured out it is time to take a step back and figure out why we are wrong.