Years ago I read and enjoyed Oscar and Lucinda, but I haven’t read anything by Peter Carey since. Left to my own devices I wouldn’t have read Amnesia, but, fortunately someone bought it for me. It was not at all what I expected and I enjoyed it.
Here is the blurb …
It was a spring evening in Washington DC; a chilly autumn morning in Melbourne; it was exactly 22.00 Greenwich Mean Time when a worm entered the computerised control systems of hundreds of Australian prisons and released the locks in many places of incarceration, some of which the hacker could not have known existed.
Because Australian prison security was, in the year 2010, mostly designed and sold by American corporations the worm immediately infected 117 US federal correctional facilities, 1,700 prisons, and over 3,000 county jails. Wherever it went, it traveled underground, in darkness, like a bushfire burning in the roots of trees. Reaching its destinations it announced itself: THE CORPORATION IS UNDER OUR CONTROL. THE ANGEL DECLARES YOU FREE.
Has a young Australian woman declared cyber war on the United States? Or was her Angel Worm intended only to open the prison doors of those unfortunates detained by Australia’s harsh immigration policies? Did America suffer collateral damage? Is she innocent? Can she be saved?
I think the blurb is a bit misleading … Felix a disgraced journalist has been employed (compelled) to write a biography of Gaby (the cyber criminal) by his friend Woody and her mother Celine. Now whose side is Woody on? Is he an American spy – did he play some part in the 1975 government dismissal? We follow Felix from safe house to safe house as he listens to tapes made by Gaby and Celine and writes the biography.
At times it was a bit confusing, but that was possibly because we only have Felix’s view point and he has no idea what’s going on. There is a lot of political history the ‘coup’ of 1975, early environmental activism and there beautiful, passionate description of the joys of coding.
The story is mostly told from Felix’s point of view – occasionally swapping to Celine and Gaby through their tapes – and he is quite the character. Funny, pompous and confused at times Felix is a fabulous character and for me the highlight of the novel. He leaps of the page.
I read this novel quickly – I was surprised how easy it was because I struggled with Oscar and Lucinda – and think it will appeal to a wide audience (especially to the generation that lived through the 1975 dismissal).
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