The Bone Clocks

David Mitchell
The Bone Clocks Cover

a well-disguised dystopia



The 2043 part hit me like a brick. Really. It affected me so much the autonomous nervous system in my gut decided to do some pretty heavy signaling, resulting in my stomach producing more acid than it should for about a week. Stress. Yes indeed. Creeping death.

What Mitchell serves is a very believable future in which Western society is slowly coming down. Coincidentally, I've been reading more on climate change lately, and what that might mean for us, and it only has just now dawned on me that we indeed only have a window of 10 to 12 years to drastically turn the wheel around.

I have to say I'm pretty pessimistic about the chance of that happening, as most politicians don't seem to grasp the urgency of the matter. I'm also convinced we will not have to wait another 50 or 100 years to see significant changes in our biosphere, and big changes for human society. It's happening now. We had spring in winter just a week ago - multiple days of 20 degrees Celsius in the second half of February, ffs.

On top of all that, and not even that related to climate change, the insect apocalypse is here too, a fact recently confirmed by a big meta-study published a few weeks ago, and if you understand ecosystems, that should get you extremely worried.

Then again, in a way, I already knew all of that last year too. I've been more or less pessimistic for quite some time. The thing is, I've become a father for the second time, just before I started The Bone Clocks, and it is the eerie realism of Mitchell's last chapter, coupled with all of the above, that only now made me fully realize full blown trouble might well be for 2043, and not for 2140, like in KSR's latest CliFi utopia.

Trouble is manifold in Mitchell's near-future, but what struck me most is how vulnerable our current lives are. He evokes the claustrophobic effect of no power, no internet, no Skype, no information.

The fact that the last chapter is embedded in a novel that starts in 1984, in a story that deals explicitly with the volatility of individual life, makes it the most effective dystopia I have ever read. Most dystopias start out as one, or get there quickly after some set up. In The Bone Clocks it's only the coda.


Read the full review on Weighing A Pig...