Ersatz World by Richard Godwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
In Ersatz World, the reader is immediately drawn in by the author’s sharp narrative and incisive dialogue. Sparing of word at times, Ersatz World has a voyeuristic thread throughout, weaving characteristics of noir, erotica, bizarro and science fiction into a tableau that Mr. Godwin does brilliantly… time after time. Richard consistently delivers those stories that our own ‘dark sides’ crave, and he does it with an authority and attention to the frailty of the human condition that only one who is a master of his craft can.
Ersatz World is, among other things, a cautionary tale of man’s reliance and growing submission to technology as well a ‘primer’ on the facets of man’s psyche, which as we see here, is both self-serving and self-destructive.
While battling his own duality… devoted husband and philanderer… publisher Samuel Verso must also deal with both failing business and failing marriage. Duality is a recurring theme throughout the story as Sam struggles between the two. Can he overcome the darkness within himself?
Richard draws a chilling parallel in Ersatz World between Samuel’s need to restructure his publishing business to keep up with technology… to survive… and his wife’s need to restructure herself to satisfy something dark and primal within herself… to survive. The dichotomy at work here is unmistakable and pure Godwin.
The subtle yet not-so-subtle sexuality throughout the story has a pentagonal dimension to it. The players - Sam, Maxine, Belinda and his wife, Phyllis and her fantasy lover – form their own ‘pentagram’, if you will, and the astute reader will not miss the symbolism as the players in this little ‘fete’ do their own ‘dance with the devil’.
Throughout the story the reader is forced to ask him/herself… what is real and what isn’t?
Dark, violent and sexual, yet not without its moments of humour, Ersatz World is an insightful look at one possible future for man.
Will we heed the warning?
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
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