Genesis (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Plato’s Politeia (c. 388-368 b.c.e.; Republic, 1701) describes a perfect society ruled by philosopher-kings who are authoritarian, coldly rational, and inflexible. It is a thought experiment on Plato’s part, an opportunity to examine the relationships in political culture. In Genesis, Bernard Beckett repeats the experiment. He creates a society in the Republic’s image, but with futuristic twists, as a human attempt to create a secure utopia is transformed into a tyranny of androids.
The plot of Genesis involves a young candidate who takes an examination to qualify for admittance into the future society’s ruling body, The Academy. The plot is clever and deeply ironic, but the true pleasure of the book lies less in complication and resolution than in the philosophical disquisition that constitutes the examination and the insights it provides into human motivations. Beckett’s novella is a book that every budding intellectual ought to read, if only to learn of the pitfalls of thought.
The examination takes place on Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) in the late twenty-first century. Young Anaximander, a brilliant student, must face a trio of examiners for a four-hour exam divided into one-hour intervals. Accordingly, the novella is divided into seven sections: four exam hours and three breaks. At the outset, Beckett allows readers little information about...
(The entire section is 1951 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, 15 (April 1, 2009): 27.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 5 (March 1, 2009): 20.
Library Journal 134, no. 7 (April 15, 2009): 80.
Magpies 21, no. 5 (November, 2006): 7.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 6 (February 9, 2009): 32.
Reading Time 51, no. 1 (February, 2007): 29.
The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2009, p. W4.
(The entire section is 28 words.)