FICTION
The Absolved
Black Spot. Dec. 2018. 290p. ISBN 9781732400726. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781732400733. SF
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Binder (High in the Streets) crafts a sardonic and bleak future, in which artificial intelligence has rendered a large percentage of the population permanently unemployed: the Absolved. While the Absolved are excused from working or having to contribute to society, they aren't all uplifted and unburdened by complete freedom. Some are dejected and furious that robots have usurped their purpose. Henri has so far defied the odds and continues working as a doctor, until he spends too much government money on patients and is eventually, unknowingly roped into a plot by a group of the Absolved to dismantle a system in which believing in technology is akin to believing in God. Binder's tale, while engaging as a novel, approaches a political treatise on eschewing the march toward exponential technological growth. The ending feels somewhat abrupt, perhaps to leave room for a sequel.
VERDICT An enjoyable, witty read that ponders where automation might actually take us, not just where we want it to go.

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