Tuesday, 13 April 2010

"The Berlusconi Bonus" by Allan Cameron

The Berlusconi Bonus is a futuristic novel set around the idea that if you become sufficiently wealthy and powerful within society then you can apply for membership of a special elite, to whom the usual rules do not apply.

"With a Berlusconi Bonus you pay no tax, you can bribe whoever you wish, ... you can murder almost with impunity, you can even rape women and bugger boys as long as they or their parents do not have BBs as well."

This is a very well written novel in which Cameron takes what might seem a rather silly plot device and builds into a serious, thought-provoking book. It is, literally, a novel of ideas, with various scenes in which different BB holders discuss the meaning of individual freedom and the role of the state. It is the central character's tragedy that he cannot handle the freedom of thought that comes with being rich and powerful, thus also raising interesting psychological themes about the need of many people to be told what to do and think.

This book is like a 1984 for today. I say that very deliberately, not least because I am a huge fan of Orwell's. This is a book which has some very important things to say, things which linger with you and force you to confront various issues. I recommend it.

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