In just 90 pages, Jordan Phillips sends readers to a whole new planet on Earth with “FUTURA: A NOVELLA.” The story takes place in Paris, France in the year 2050. It has all but been taken over by Invisibles, which are “vast networks of complex, collaborative, self-formulating systems.” Invisibles do not have human bodies and many came as microchips inside objects and others were full on robots. These Invisibles could communicate through voice commands or solely by thought.
The story revolves around an American that lives in Paris, Ruby. The area is described as Nouveau Nouveau, as it connects the future of technology with nature. Considering humans are underexploited, Ruby has trouble learning to live in a dystopian world. She has big dreams that are pretty unrealistic in this era for any human. Life for humans is simple and perfect, and Ruby’s dreams lead her towards trouble in the future.
Ruby shares some of the spotlight with friend Blythe. The most memorable thing about Blythe is her blatant dislike for being a mother. She talks about it being stressful and boring. Maybe this is what motherhood is like in dystopian times, but that seems unlikely. Each of Ruby’s friends belongs to a different group of people, like the Basics and the Holdouts and the Roamers.
Ruby’s various friends teach her different things about this new world. One thing that technology can never take away is the human feelings; they can not be artificially created. This is one thing that makes this novella different than many other dystopian novels, where humans lose their ability to be themselves. The shortcomings and failures help make life realistic. It almost felt unreal for Ruby though, whereas other groups like the Holdouts made it feel possible, embracing their old lives while not being alienated from the population.
Overall, it was somewhat difficult to really connect with Ruby’s character, or those of some of her companions. The storyline was broken quite loosely into four sections, spanning different times in Ruby’s life and over time I begin to dislike her. Within such a short story, there was a ton of detail in a short amount of time that sometimes became confusing. One part that was different than many other pieces of literature about future worlds, was that it ended happily.
I think that Jordan Phillips would have a more successful novel if Ruby was not the focus, or if she tripled the length and really dug into Ruby’s past and present life. It would also be interesting to see a full-length novel focusing on The Basics and The Holdouts because some of their concepts used in Futura were worthy of more detail. Although this was a quick and thought-provoking read, I found myself searching for more.
If you like stories about dystopian eras, this is a book to add to your reading list. It may not be exactly what I was hoping it would be, but it is a good start. I’m wanting more from Jordan Phillips because her ideas are unique and profound. This is the first edition of her story, so I hope she comes back with a longer version.
“FUTURA: A NOVELLA” can be found locally at Joseph Fox Bookshop.