Author of previous gut-wrenchers “hector,” a love letter to the exploited & oppressed, beaten, downtrodden and abused and open declaration of hate to people who “may or may not be you,” and “This is Not a Flophouse,” a fictional expose of America’s transitory placement on the deadly roulette wheel of power, K.I. Hope has done it again with her latest offspring, “We Are Making The World a Better Place,” this time depicting the potential malleability of human perspective on censorship of unrefined emotion, expression and utterance in the personal life of one of the Speech Police. K.I. Hope’s writing in this one reminded this reporter of Philip K. Dick at his most engrossing, being distinguished by its conception and execution at a time in history beyond Dick’s imagining, in a world where the possibilities of speculative fiction about human society seem to have been expended and the future is now. Hand in hand with the phenomenon of some university students demanding that “trigger warnings” be added to literary classics in their curriculum, no doubt an elite corps. of dumbers-down with special training exists these days behind every internet screen. This book’s narrator is one of these, driven by a messianic passion to improve society’s unrefined raw data by smoothing it out for the sake of bettering the future.
“That is, in essence, my employ . . . I see it as a fulfillment of that childhood dream, of storytelling, of sharing our human experience . . . We live by seconds. Seconds it takes for information to transmit through cables, at the bottoms of oceans, wrapping around the Earth five times . . . giant leviathans curling underneath the depths, carrying the currencies of world economies through its stomach. Evolution, everything, all of it, is going faster, faster, faster . . .
Hope’s book comes strongly alive in the previous passage, encouraging fans to keep reading. Before long, we learn that despite his zeal for purification, our hero is in a love relationship with an anti-capitalist fan of the hacktivist cadre Anonymous, and at times sees piercingly through all the rhetorical justification of his appointed cause, stating bluntly at the end of one chapter, “A one-way conversation is not a conversation. It is a sermon.” Even so, he persists. “. . . in our little feudal system, one ascends to the throne not from lineage but by brains and imagination.”
In a couple of crucial places, scenes of the city’s geography are placed in parallel to the narrator’s delineations of the purifying process of web-censorship to great effect, as here, when just after dropping that line about the one-way conversation, our narrator goes on to describe a place near the edge of the city which “serves as a safety valve. The surge that will spill forth from our minds will not always contain pure liquid. The sludge that will surely collect needs to pass through a valve before it is suitable for human consumption.” These sequences skillfully unite the narrator’s inner world with the landscape he inhabits, as is always the case in real life, though we may not admit it. “We aren’t making the world a better place. We are just making the world.”