24 December 2015

Dystopian Writings by Henry Tam

Long before ‘dystopia’ became shorthand for any kind of terrifying event set in the future, it denoted a specific genre of political fiction. Around the first half of the 20th century, Wells, London, Zamyatin, Čapek, Huxley, Burdekin, and Orwell wrote novels that presented societies that had degenerated into an appalling state because of their flawed governance. They wanted to draw attention to the grievous socio-economic trends that would concentrate too much power in a few individuals or an elite group, who could then exert total control over everyone else. With two world wars and an extended period of global economic collapse in between, it was not surprising that writers with first hand experience of the fallout from unrestrained capitalism and the rise of totalitarianism should want to focus attention on these dangers and help prevent their recurrence.

In the first half the 21st century, extremist cravings for repressive controls and the spread of crony capitalism have plunged the world into pervasive insecurity. Financial crises, climate change threats, countless caught up in wars, scapegoats routinely persecuted – all stemming from a powerful few steam-rolling their agenda forward. Henry Tam’s ‘Synetopia Quest’ series follows the core dystopian tradition in holding up a mirror to contemporary political failings, and drawing out the unsavoury development that can only be reversed through an inclusive redistribution of power. Each novel in the series tells a distinct story in its own unique setting, while a central character appears in all of them in different guises as the quest to end oppression unfolds.

Kuan’s Wonderland
An allegorical tale about a young boy taken against his will to the mysterious realm of Shiyan, where nothing is as it appears. His efforts to find a way home to his father is repeatedly thwarted. But just when he is about to resign to accepting what this strange world has to offer him, he discovers what that could mean for his father and their homeland. So alongside the curious characters who have come to his aid, he seeks to unmask and bring down the insidious oppressors.

- “An unmissable page-turner” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild).
- “Simply a tour de force … full of plot surprises and layers of deeper meaning” (Ann Walker, Director for Education, WEA)
- “Original and very engaging” (Fantasy Book Review)
- “A great book to open debate and enquiry with young people on society and politics.” (Chief Executive, Young Advisors)
- “I can't remember the last time I was so gripped by a book … It's by turns funny, moving and frightening.” (A. J. Marks, Amazon Review)
- “The ending is tense, unexpected and powerful.” (Ben Chu, The Independent newspaper)

Kuan’s Wonderland is the recommended novel of the Equality Trust in their resource guide for promoting understanding of the problem of inequality.
(Find out more about Kuan’s Wonderland or order it here).

Whitehall through the Looking Glass
A satirical novel about how a group of powerful corporations known as the Consortium, working in cahoots with multi-billionaire monarch, George VIII, come to control those governing both Britain and the US. By using the monitoring and manipulation technology of the Super Utility Network, the Consortium expands its power until there is no one left who can stand in its way. Or so it appears, until a defiant civil servant and a secret resistance movement threaten to bring its reign to an end.

- “[A] timely reminder of the dangers of the rapidly-accelerating corporatisation of our political and economic life.” (Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC);
- “Beautifully, deftly written, [it] is dark and compelling reading.” (Dame Jane Roberts, Chair, NLGN)
- “We need Tam's absurdist vision of Whitehall to help wake us all up” (Simon Duffy, Director, Centre for Welfare Reform);
- “One of those rare novels that has the power to change the way you think” (Caroline Anslow, Amazon Review)
- “It should be read by anyone interested in the state of our democracy” (Sonny Leong, Chief Executive, Civil Service College).
- “It kept me hooked to the very end.” (Baroness Kay Andrews, ex-Government Minister).

Whitehall through the Looking Glass has been selected by WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) reading circles to facilitate discussions of current political issues.
(Find out more about Whitehall through the Looking Glass or order it here.

The Hunting of the Gods
A saga about the conflicts on Earth as it enters the sixth century of its Present Era. Its technologically advanced inhabitants have established beyond all reasonable doubt that life on the planet was created by the gods no more than 500 years ago. From the beginning, the two dominant immortal rulers have fought each other for ultimate supremacy. Now their hold on power is threatened by revolutionaries with their own contrasting agendas. But none of the rebels knows what they are truly up against until a resurrected man brings forward a revelation about the past that will transform their future.

(The Hunting of the Gods is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2016)