Millennium People by J.G. Ballard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First published in the UK in 2003, Millennium People was not even released in the USA until 2011. I thought I'd complained about publisher antics before! I'm not sure if they thought a story set in England wasn't universal enough, but the book would have been disturbingly prophetic read in 2003.
Ballard discusses what happens when people reach a place of complacency, and the danger of the middle class. One of the major characters tries to prove that it is only random violence that helps us understand our place in the universe, which of course was uncomfortable. I don't like to think of myself as even marginally close to terrorism.
"No middle-class revolutionary can defend the barricades without a shower and a large cappuccino."
"People will set off bombs for the sake of free parking. Or for no reason at all. We're all bored, desperately bored. We're like children left for too long in a playroom. After a while we have to start breaking up the toys, even the ones we like. There's nothing we believe in...."
"We think we believe in God but we're terrified by the mysteries of life and death. We're deeply self-centered but can't cope with the idea of our finite selves. We believe in progress and the power of reason, but are haunted by the darker sides of human nature. We're obsessed with sex, but fear the sexual imagination and have to be protected by huge taboos. We believe in equality but hate the underclass... We're an accident of nature, but we think we're at the centre of the universe. We're a few steps from oblivion, but we hope we're somehow immortal...."