Book Review: Dead Monkeys
Once in a generation a science fiction novel is released for public consumption that is so visionary in premise and so masterfully written that it is immediately embraced by the masses and becomes an instant classic. Think Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Dead Monkeys is not that novel. This, of course, is not due to any lack on its part – for the tale of endearing ‘mad’ scientist Robert Lopez dabbling with man-to-monkey mental interface capabilities is as joyfully depressing as any great and better-known literary romp with a futuristic twist that might line a sci-fi fan’s bookshelves.
However, in this epoch of lazy publishers, which tend to name the next Great Book among their list of darling authors and force a trend through their ever-presumptuous and steam-rolling marketing departments – the meat of which is left to be picked up, chewed on and eviscerated by their hungry, if not desperate, if not conditioned readers who often mistake such fare not only as entertainment, but mind-expanding art and culture – there has been for several years now an uprising underway of smart, dedicated and relevant self-publishing wordsmiths whose work might lack the promotional machine of the widely-devoured and accepted sci-fi cannon that has been sputtering forth from Corporate America’s novel-making trough – but for those brave sci-fi fans willing to take the time to bother and read them, discover a satisfying meal for the mind that is at least as worthy as any Great Book that has been pre-selected for their enjoyment by the so-called literary establishment.
Dead Monkeys is that novel. Set in a future only a little too close and comfortable to our own, perhaps, it discloses through diary entries the rise and fall of Robert Lopez, a scientist whose only real madness equates to his successes and failures trying to bridge the gap of understanding between humans and other animals by creating a technology that allows all life on Earth to communicate with each other, resulting in a civilization that quickly devolves from a moment of brief promise and jubilee to despair and destruction once not only the loving family dog Rover – but also the cows people eat – can talk and discuss with humans (as well as their other planetary co-habitants) what has been on their minds since Homo Sapiens seized control of the world and subjugated the animal kingdom to its whims eons ago.
It turns out what most animals have to say to their Homo Sapien oppressors isn’t pretty, but the result is amazing, at least to this reader, in an oh-shit-we’re-all-screwed sort of way.
A remarkably insightful novella for the lover of science fiction, A.L. Lorentz’s Dead Monkeys is as current as Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, as funny as Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and as classic in its pro-science spirit and anti-ignorance sentiment as Voltaire’s Candide.
Dead Monkeys is a beam of light that cuts through the darkness of our time and unapologetically turns on and plays off the follies of our age.
Reading this tale I can’t help but glimpse a future that’s less apocalyptic and maybe a little more realistic than paradise, if only people can manage to rise above their inner beasts.
Ryan Hyatt, March 26, 2018