Book Review: Babouc’s Vision
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
A dystopian nightmare that holds a mirror up to our world
For years, Harl Babouc has kept to himself. He has his appliance repair shop to run and regular customers to see, but he rarely ventures outside.
Beyond the shop’s four walls, CynCity has become more and more violent. Vicious gangs roam the streets, hunting for easy victims. Corporations squeeze desperate citizens for every bit they can spare—and then a little more. The government protects only its most privileged citizens.
Such sin cannot go unchecked, Harl finds out, when an angel appears in his workshop. The stain of immorality has seeped too deeply into the structure of the city. The only option left is for it to be chastened or destroyed. And for that, the angel needs Harl’s help. His eyes, ears, and heart must determine the fate of the bustling, complex place he lives in.
Babouc’s Vision is a frame novel, reminiscent of The Decameron in some ways. It studies human nature, society, and current events by packing multiple stories in it. Each of the stories is set in the same bleak dystopian city in the near future, but the themes and atmosphere vary.
Babouc’s Vision is very much a study of our world through the lens of science fiction. Loneliness, alienation, corruption, and greed are recurring themes, but there are lovely rays of hope that shine through at unexpected intervals. While this falls under the sci-fi umbrella, it is light on the science. The focus is more on character and society.
Like any multi point-of-view novels, readers will have their favorites storylines. While I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline that follows a young former gang member trying to leave his past and build a future free of violence, certain ideas in the text were the most fascinating to me. Older people in the novel felt like they stood in two worlds. One foot in a safer, cleaner, kinder past and one in the desolate present. For the younger characters, they were a tenuous connection to that almost lost past.
The structure of the novel is the only place where it loses some of its grip. It jumps from viewpoint to viewpoint for a good chunk of the novel before settling in to unpack how the stories play out. As a result, the endings to some of these storylines feel choppy and unfinished. With so many viewpoints, there’s also the problem of not remembering certain characters or storylines when they roll around again.
Babouc’s Vision is a strong collection of tales, in novel form. I love how everything starts coming together in the end. As the stories link up, human connection becomes a new theme, however tenuous.
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy / Dystopia
Print Length: 184 pages
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