by Steven Amsterdam - £8.99 Vintage (2011)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780099547044 | ISBN 10: 009954704x
A mesmerising debut set in a not-too-distant future, in a landscape at once utterly fantastic and strangely familiar.
Richly imagined, dark, and darkly comic, Things We Didn't See Coming follows a man over three decades as he tries to survive - and to retain his humanity - in a world savaged by successive cataclysmic events.
Opening on the eve of the millennium, when the world as we know it is still recognisable, we meet the then nine-year-old narrator fleeing the city with his parents, just ahead of a Y2K breakdown of the grid which signals the world’s transformation and decline. In the wake of this develop strange, sometimes horrific, sometimes unexpectedly funny circumstances as he goes about the no longer simple act of survival: trying to protect squatters against floods in a place where the rains never stop; harrassed (and possibly infected) by a man wracked with plague; functioning as a salaried embezzler of 'the state'; escorting the gravely ill on adventure trips.
Yet despite the violence and brutality of these days, we learn that even as the world is spinning out of control essential human impulses still hold sway - that we never entirely escape our parents, envy the success of those around us and, chiefly, that we crave love.
(Price & availability last checked: May 2019)