Until I realised that this novel is nought but a p!ss-take, I was a little disappointed. I’m a fan of storyline in my books, and The Caryatids unfolds as a set of short stories interconnected by their protagonists being cloned sisters. Yay.
The setting is a world embracing the disaster of climate change. The air is heavily polluted, the oceans rising, and most nation-states have collapsed, unable to support their populations. This is of course a very real possibility (climate change, and disaster relief will likely bankrupt most Western nations in the next hundred years). Naturally things then go, you know, ‘crazy’. Into this post-disaster world have stepped two main ideological forces, the ‘Dispensation’, and the ‘Acquis’. The latter are tech-heavy hippies, and are trying to restore an environment polluted by the actions of the late-C20th and early C21st. The former are, I discovered, basically the worse cultural aspects of Americanism, writ large.
And it was then that the book started to make sense. The dialogue between characters of the Dispensation was… insane, and shallow beyond comprehension at first. A bit like trying to make sense of many, many American teenagers. But once I twigged, it was at times laugh-out-loud funny.
So all in all not a bad read at all. There’s nothing much to follow except a series of crazy episodes, so just hunker down and see what Sterling thinks the Brave New World will look like. The climate change subject is likely to continue to be a fruitful one for pretty much every novelist you can imagine…