The Resisters is a complex dystopian story envisioning the consequences of an authoritarian technology dependent future. And yet, the story involves baseball!
The story begins with Gwen. As a baby, Gwen “threw her stuffed animals straight through her bedroom doorway. They shot out, never so much as grazing the door frame, and they always hit the wall of the staircase across from her bedroom at a certain spot…”. Gwen had a golden arm.
Gwen’s parents, Eleanor and Grant Cannon-Chastanet were Surplus, Unretrainables, people with discontinued professions. “Factory workers, drivers, and customer representatives, in the beginning—joined…by assorted doctors, lawyers, accountants.” The list goes on. Eleanor had been a lawyer and Grant had been a teacher. Both were deemed unretrainable. “…it was hard not to notice that the Unretrainables did somehow include everyone coppertoned, as well as everyone spyeyed, like Eleanor.”
The family lives in AutoAmerica, and the government is run by Automation and AI rolled up with the Internet. The family referrs tothe government as Aunt Nettie. However, AutoAmerica still has a constitution and Eleanor is an activist trying to obtain rights for the Surplus. She has been jailed and tortured a number of times.
The job of the Surplus is to consume. There are MallTrucks for free food and living points for doing as Aunt Nettie decrees. On the other hand, the Netted, who are much more privileged than the Surplus, must produce. Their children can go to college and they have many freedoms. As you can imagine, the Surplus and the Netted have certain unsubstantiated ideas about each other.
Gwen goes to school and makes a friend, Ondi. Ondi is a handful and spends a lot of time at Gwen’s house and learns to knit. She goes off on a lark and falls afoul of the “Enforcers”. Her family, the Nickelhoffs, live in a Flotsam town on the water. As a result of Ondi’s behavior, the family is set to drift on the high seas with no port of entry for 30 days. AutoAmerica experiences extremes of weather as the result of climate change. The 30 day castoff is miserable and Ondi’s parents blame Eleanor and Grant. the i8mpact of this punishment is felt throughout the story.
In the meantime, Eleanor establishes a secretive baseball league for the Surplus. The league had to start underground because the Surplus had no baseball fields and “gathering in unsanctioned spaces was Unlawful Assembly.” Gwen becomes a pitcher and is extremely successful.
Aunt Nettie learns about Gwen’s pitching and they offer her the opportunity to try out for the Netted University baseball team. Surplus are rarely given the opportunity to attend Netted University. Gwen is not interested but she is convinced. She manages to bring Ondi with her as a catcher. She has two netted roommates who are kind and outraged about the discrimination experienced by the Surplus. Gwen becomes a pitcher on the team and is very successful. She also develops a relationship with the Coach.
In the meantime, Eleanor has just won a lawsuit against Aunt Nettie regarding Emanations coming from Surplus fields where children play. The Emanations were causing physical ailments. Eleanor is also pursuing litigation involving the food at the Mall Trucks. Aunt Nettie does not like Eleanor!
Gwen is forced to join the AutoAmerica Olympic team and the team ultimately goes to the finals against ChinRussia, where there has been some resistance to the repressive government. During the final game, Eleanor disappears and all kinds of things happen. You will have to read the book to see how it ends.
There is a lot in the book. There are enforcers and drones and GreetingGrams and PigeonGrams. Surplus can cross over and copper tone can PermaDerm their skin and become AngelFair. But mostly, the novel is about the excesses of authoritarianism fueled by artificial intelligence and the resulting discrimination and isolation. The story is deeply rich and the characters are complex and sympathetic. There is a bit too much detail in the futuristic description (bots, talking houses, etc.), but once you get past that the novel is a thought provoking read. You can reserve it at Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.