Friday, 21 March 2008


BOX Penelope Todd, Longacre, 186 pp, Pb, $16.95 ISBN 1-877361-12-7

Every good story of the future has a symbol that sums up its atmosphere. For 1984 it’s clocks striking 13 and for 2001 it’s an enigmatic black shaft. For 2005 it’s the cardboard box that the hero of Box sleeps in.
Actually Penelope Todd’s Box is not set in the present; it’s located a few plausible years in the future when a PACT government, backed by a major drug company, has made New Zealand a pioneer in dealing with such threats as cancer, bird flu, and heart disease. So why is Derek Love living in a cardboard box?
The answer – because he doesn’t want a controlling device grafted into his body - raises good issues about state powers, freedom of speech, compulsion, liberty and youthful rebellion, without wasting too much time on speeches. Instead it’s a fast-moving account of Derek and his friend Becka’s involvement with the underground resistance movement in Dunedin.

The plot, setting and characters are convincing, making this a highly readable science fiction adventure.

Trevor Agnew

This review first appeared in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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