*Editted and revised: A surprisingly sophisticated breath of fresh air
Incomplete, violent, claustrophobic, often more poetry than prose, and hyperbolically cynical in its view of America's future, Justice in Usono, a subversion of the saturated dystopian sci-fi genre is a surprisingly sophisticated breath of fresh air.
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At 16 short chapters in (and assumedly many more to go), Justice in Usono presents a future that exists as a parody of itself. One the one hand, the story presents the psychologically troubling, dangerous, and narrow-minded character of the collector, living in a dystopia of man’s own making: hilariously, a post-apocalyptic Missouri that seems awfully similar to New Orleans. The chapters that tell the linear, often oppressive story of the collector have no dialogue. No one speaks save the radios and intercoms that the collector hears. Often claustrophobic in style and point-of-view, we see one of the many future dystopias in store for America through the collector’s eyes. Did I mention that he’s a racist? In fact, it would appear that a new, subtle, and pervasive racism has emerged: one of Italians and Irish descended Americans. One of the most mysterious but nonetheless important characters in his story is the Creole, assumedly what today would be a minority, in the “Rompopolis” a king of sorts. The “Rompopolis” itself exists as a clever, subtle satire of a dystopia. It has all the elements of a dystopia: sickness, violence, death, and drugs. But it becomes clear that this results from an excess of freedom. There are not government thugs patrolling the streets. There are no curfews. There are no black helicopters. The “dystopia” in the Rompopolis is arguably self-imposed. And that’s where the magic is. Through the glimpses of truth the reader catches through the narrow, tilted perspective of the collector, one is able to see a picture of true hell on earth: complete freedom.
Alternating with chapters of the collector (or, as the chapter titles read, “the Shark”) are chapters detailing the story of Justiciar 78, a man with the name “Brams”. It is his story that most subtly and perhaps most directly targets, ridicules, and improves the traditional, cyberpunk, “electric-blue” megalopolis that is the setting of far too many dystopian plots. Justiciar 78, or simply 78, is one of the government thugs we read so much about. He is fiercely loyal to maintaining order and the status quo, and arguably serves some very evil, selfish men. But even then, the establishment and fleshing-out of that dystopian world takes some bold turns. “Numbers” and the removal of identity are not forcedly imposed, but adopted out of convenience. People seem relatively free to do as they wish in the city dubbed, “Newer York”. The change in setting, juxtaposed against measured dialog and a poetic, flawed, and lovably depraved protagonist makes for a welcome change in pace to the slower “Shark” chapters.
Altogether, Justice in Usono is conspicuously far from finished. Plot holes remain unfilled, loose ends are still loose, and from the looks of things, the story’s barely even started. But keep following this saga and believe me, I know it will be worth it.