The Dystopian Nation of City-State – How to Kill Your Senator
The story “How to Kill Your Senator” is both a standalone tale and an addition to the growing Dystopian Nation of City-State collection of short stories. The City-State is a melding of Orwellian control and a Huxley like genetic class structure. The stories are written in a succinct, matter of fact style; the sentences are short and factual and the characters sketched out in sharp relief. The City-State is similarly described and each of the seven layers of the city has its own unique characteristics as does its population. Despite some incongruities, e.g. some people still wear ties; the stories hold true to the design and atmosphere of the City-State and are internally consistent. This is no mean feat given the complexities of the set up.
For those already familiar with The Dystopian Nation, How to Kill Your Senator (HtKYS) will come as a surprise. To begin with HtKYS is more overtly an allegorical tale than the others. It bemoans the lack of political awareness of those who vote and their failure to comprehend how political systems function. The character “Legislation” known as Jinn is portrayed as both a Gollum like figure and a self perpetuating, ravening monster which rules and consumes your life without you even knowing it.
In a dream the main protagonist, Jackson Cartwright, slaughters the Senators of the City-State only to be brought face to face with his folly when they are resurrected; much to Legislation’s glee. On waking from his nightmare Jackson is called by the National Polling Institute eager to discover his voting intentions in the forthcoming elections to the Senate. Befuddled and short of time Jackson effectively says, same as always, Neo-Progressive thereby perpetuating the status quo. Then Jinn reappears and mocks Jackson saying amongst other things “You’ll never learn” and promising to return overnight.
HtKYS uses a broader word palate than the other stories and the narrative is largely driven by speech and discussion; another departure from The Dystopian Nation of City-State. But the sense of despair and powerlessness evident in many of the other tales is fully retained. You don’t need to have read any of the other stories to appreciate HtKYS, but it may help. Whether this is a worthy addition to the canon or not only you can decide. I for one rather liked it and its quirkiness.