Review by Alex. J

‘Dyspheria is, always was, and always will be, the greatest threat to humanity.’

Liberty Farm (LF) is a prescient dystopian novel of a future Earth that has been saved by the ‘Writer’ after a mass outbreak of the VIRUS, dyspheria, ended what was left of human civilisation. People are safe now they’re in Liberty Farm but something is amiss when the Writer is ready to step down from his position and allow a politician clone Dean Perish to replace him, making systems monitor Christopher deeply uncomfortable … The virus has never been under control, but it’s getting worse, and a mysterious red-haired woman keeps appearing to leave Christopher clues. Is there more behind the rumours of hacking, and Liberty Farm itself, than life as he knows it?

As with comparable classics by George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K Dick, Liberty Farm is about hiding the truth; and the relentless uncompromising search for a solution to the inconvenient human individual’s freedom, love, creativity, and imagination.

Same as the classics, but how is LF different?
Liberty Farm transcends time, linking outdated ideas of the human being’s ideal appearance and performance to the ideal resident – not citizen – who is completely reliant on external technology in the farm and is expected to support the most popular electoral candidates; and this compliance is enforced through intrusive surveillance in public areas and regular internal assessments. I mean, residents are basically hooked into the mainframe that monitors their behaviour. Christopher can’t get too excited, or probably even fart, without his bosses knowing about it.

The idea of perfection of the rehabilitated resident is the driving force in life for dormant and lower-class symptomatic residents, to become ‘the emune’ who are entitled to material privileges. You’ve got to work for your future, the dream, to become the emune. In this sense, I felt LF was a criticism of modern-day meritocracy, of chasing the out-of-reach dream that is presented to us.  

LF is a dystopian novel of severity:
Technology has advanced to regulate behaviour with audioprogramming feeding nonsense sensations and emotions into our ears to help with work performance while holographic screens circulate before our eyes. Every time Christopher is in the public bar Body, he’s exposed to the ‘libervision’ news.

Our BRAINs are not our own:
1) They’re downloading updates to and from the mainframe.
2) ‘BRAINs released small doses of reward chemicals during the shopping experience itself as well as larger amounts after purchases.’
3) The media plays strongly on the threat to BRAINs hackers pose from those lower-class symptomatic residents – where dyspheria is prevalent.

How did all this happen? It started with a virus: ‘Lived to this day by all its residents, still affected by the disease more than a century after the Outbreak’. And it really is still lived to this day: ‘Residents are politely asked to finish their drinks and return to their homes by nine for hibernation. Return to your home by nine for hibernation.’

LF has a strong foundation in psychiatry and lucid dreaming, as well as the science fiction dystopian genre itself. For readers who want to read what Earth could be like in so many years, LF is a plausible account, original in its construction. I’d say it’s for readers who like to be intellectually challenged, to see the world from different angles and immerse themselves in the dimensions and texture of the farm. The feeling throughout is one of calm gentle curiosity, and though LF can be compared to classics in quality and genre, you finish realising you haven’t read a book quite like it.

Read Alex’s review on his website.