The City Inside

Tor.com Jun. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781250827487. $25.99. SF
There’s a chilling effect to Basu’s (The Simoqin Prophecies) new near-future sf epic, set in a social media–glutted world where surveillance is everywhere. In the near-future city of Delhi, Joey is a Reality Controller. It’s her job to create a safe, sanitized version of the social media star she showcases, while the government uses censorship to spoon-feed news, opinions, and entertainment to numb a populace that can’t keep up with the constant re-writing of history and alternate political realities. The “surveillance capitalism” of the State is designed to keep the wealthy in power while convincing the people being exploited that everything is fine. When Joey learns that the exploitation is even more heinous and literal than she imagined, she has to decide whether to resist. She is caught between protecting herself and her loved ones and exposing a rot that everyone is programmed to ignore.
VERDICT Readers will empathize with Joey’s dilemma and get caught up in the minutiae of her life. The novel’s theme, that the truth does not and cannot set anyone free, is as disturbing as it is thought-provoking.
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