Call this a dystopia, and maybe it is. But it isn’t. Unless we wish to look at our own world as a potential utopia, and god I really hope we don’t do that, then this just isn’t a dystopian novel. Nor is it an authoritarian one, even though it involves authoritarianism, and nor is it post-apocalypse, because there’s no apocalypse.
Instead, it’s a future novel. It’s a novel about a future Japan in which the world has been rocked by earthquakes and tidal waves, alongside deeper and deeper corruption of natural resources, the environment, and civil liberties. All of these are sliding down an unfortunate path, but none are yet at an extreme level. This novel also deals with a world in which life has been artificially extended beyond what feels like natural capacities (let’s say 100 years), but that quality of life is made worse as the children of our children are the least healthy children that have ever been.
It’s also a novel about words and how those we use daily are slowly losing their meaning, or specifically having their meaning stripped from them. It’s also a novel about a grandfather and a grandson, because even in a future world, there’s still those.
So in conclusion, this is a small novel about a very different, but not as scary as possible future in which life as we know it looks very different from our life today. But then again, moving the world up 100 years in almost any period of human history would involve a radical new reality for those living it. That’s scary about thinking about the future; we won’t be there to see it.