Gateway to Forever by Claude Nougat
The over-arching theme is the approaching doom of Earth from climate change. The story is set two hundred years into the future and what becomes apparent very quickly is that humankind never did learn the lessons of what it would take to save the planet.
Set two hundred years from now, this is speculative fiction at its scariest. The world is coming to an end but not for everyone. The ultra-rich have the Age Prevention Program that keeps them looking young till the day they drop dead. And they have ways to escape mankind’s dramatic fate, leaving behind the vast majority of people to struggle with global warming, war and epidemics.
This is the story of beautiful young Alice born on the wrong side of the tracks. She is determined to escape her fate, but the road to the exclusive world of billionaires is long and arduous. Can Jamie, a dashing investigative reporter she’s just met, help her?
He belongs to the closed circles of the ultra-rich but he’s involved with Lizzie Woods, an attractive golf champion, descendant of the mythical Tiger Woods. And Lizzie has pressing problems of her own that demand Jamie’s attention.
Her uncle, a veteran Blue Beret, recently retired from the UN Special Forces, is out to kill her. To complicate matters, an eccentric billionaire who’s turned Antarctica into his own private refuge, takes an inordinate interest in Lizzie and her uncle…Can Jamie save both Alice and Lizzie and which one will win his heart?
This is the novel of Man’s threatened existence on Earth and the search for alternatives.
Review by thinknicethoughts:
Sometimes you arrive at a book where you glance up from the page and look around to check out what your actual reality is. This is such a book. Yes – it is a story of greed, selfishness, love, sex, ambition, goodness et al. It is all the things that we are. What is different is that it is just a little closer to the horizon of future than us right now. But – not so far that we are disconnected.
I felt that I was in the back carriage of a speeding train. If I chose I could just walk along the corridor and be there. Why bother, we’re all going to the same place? The premise is of a world divided into a fabulously rich elite class of ever beautiful people and the rest – the merely mortal poor majority. Does this sound familiar guys? Yes – this is our train. We are on it. Our world is choking itself with its industrial pollution. Well – what else makes the wealth?
The narrative follows a number of characters as the elite seek ways to use their wealth to cheat the reaper’s scythe. This story makes a thumping good read as if it were a detective tale or a romance. Beyond this framework of human foible lurks the cold interrogator of reason. What is the morality of wealth? What is the nature of time, individualized consciousness and the universe?
The clever thing in this book is that the author offers no didactic guide. She shrugs because this is how it is. You decide. In the story the elite are remarkably shallow. Those beneath them are of little account. In their blisstopian bubble their own desires and ambitions are paramount. They represent a class of man one can only think of as an hereditary meritocracy. Who needs Kant when you have golf?
This is a stimulating book that can be addressed on many levels. Once you have read it the digestion begins with the next News bulletin, celebrity sports interview, medical breakthrough, IMF pronouncement and on and on. This is a book from an old style intellectual writer, a painter and poet. She’s on the same train and looking up the tracks where we’re all headed.
Review by Alana Woods:
Some time ago I read Nougat’s short story compilation Death on Facebook, Short Stories for the Digital Age and was impressed with the range of stories and the skill with which they were presented. One that caught my imagination was ‘I will not leave you behind’, the futuristic story of a 122 year old woman who is part of an elite program that keeps you young until you die.
In GATEWAY TO FOREVER, Nougat has taken that short story and woven its premise into a novel I enjoyed reading very much.
The over-arching theme is the approaching doom of Earth from climate change. The story is set 200 years into the future and what becomes apparent very quickly is that humankind never did learn the lessons of what it would take to save the planet. Everyone, including big business, is still only concerned with the present and what they can get out of it for themselves. People are still divided into the have’s and have not’s, only now the have’s—called the OnePercenters—can afford to have old-age and illness permanently eliminated right up until death, whereas the have not’s—the 99PerCenters—continue to struggle as we struggle in this day and age.
The story and struggle is told through three characters who all aspire to be a OnePercenter, highlighting the fact that even in Earth’s extremis we’re still only concerned with what advantages we can garner for ourselves.
You can come away from reading this story feeling a great despair for where we’re heading. The alternatives that the author presents, that of leaving Earth to inhabit a new planet and starting again, or remaining and hoping Earth regenerates itself, are stark contrasts.
A thought-provoking, confronting read.