Margaret Atwood
Byliner Inc., San Francisco, 2012, e-book (serialized), English

From the Publisher. In the saucy but sinister Byliner Serial Positron, Booker Prize–winning author Margaret Atwood takes readers on a thrill ride to the near future, where a totalitarian state collides with the chaos of human desire.

"As seamless as a stocking, and shockingly believable" is how "The Globe and Mail" describes "I'm Starved for You," the first episode of Positron. In it Atwood maps the world of Consilience, an Orwellian society in which it's the lawful who are locked up, while, beyond the gates, criminals wander the wasted streets of America.

Stan understands the Faustian deal he and his wife, Charmaine, have made. In exchange for a house, food, and what the online brochure hails as "A Meaningful Life," they've chosen to become guinea pigs in this new social order. The couple know that to break the rules is dangerous; but, driven by unrelenting boredom and lust, they do it anyway and betray each other and the system.

In "Choke Collar," the second and steamiest episode of the series, they get their comeuppance: Stan finds himself the sexual plaything of a subversive member of the Consilience security team and in no time is made a pawn in a shadowy scheme to bring Consilience crashing down.

Meanwhile, Charmaine is being held indefinitely at Consilience's prison, Positron, for her own sins of the flesh: a torrid affair carried on with another resident. How far she'll go to regain her good name and position is anyone's guess, especially Stan's. In "Erase Me," installment number three, the couple learn the hard way that marriage can be murder.

The sexually charged and morally complex stories of Positron are like a trip to a deviant funhouse. Stay tuned for the final episode of Atwood's dystopian dark comedy, and discover whether anyone can overcome the greatest treachery of all: human nature.

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Fiona Raby

The use of satire and the careful handling of the absurd is something Tony (Dunne) and I continue to pursue in our own work. How to make something sharp and knowing, layered and complex, and also, what to leave out. How to deliver a “lightness of touch,” which this book does beautifully.

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