Authorised Happiness 2

By Griffo & Van Hamme
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781849184489

After the Black Mirror-style twisted futures of the previous volume, I had high hopes for this second book – and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

What makes the tales more disturbing is that the future they depict is not some unfathomable distant century but just a handful of tomorrows. It’s something we could, given the right (or wrong) circumstances, be experiencing in our own lifetimes.

Like the previous book, there are three tales here, beginning with an official of the Ministry of Public Safety defending the Universal Card. This is a single device that replaces the National ID card, driving license, and various social benefit and pension cards, police records, and medical details. More recently it has become the way to pay for things too. Some aspects of the populace object to the card and are rioting, but the Minister defends it. He sees it as a way of ensuring the state is able to deliver on protecting and serving the populace. The supreme irony is that the Minister’s card ceases to work, and slowly but surely he is pushed to the outskirts of society, and to breaking point. Since this story was first written we have seen the emergence of the smartphone and all that it can do. It would be a very small step to make what a smartphone can do compulsory and arrive at a similar place to this story.

The second tale involves the ramifications of placing a limit on family sizes. More importantly, what happens to those families when the law is broken. The third tale involves art and literature, and how the state takes control of it. Creators become sponsored by the state, and if you don’t get sponsored you simply can’t create anything. Just how creative can someone be under those circumstances?

All of the tales involve gross intrusions into freedoms we currently take for granted. All successfully argue the case for why those freedoms have been removed, and paint a picture of a world we could so easily step into. It’s a gripping read for showing just how close to the edge we currently sit.

I really enjoyed the artwork in this too, sometimes a blend of Mobius and Carlos Ezquerra. Can’t be bad.

The final volume draws all these individual vignettes together. I’m looking forward to how it’s resolved.

And if you liked that: Volume 3 is coming soon.

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