Monday, December 7, 2009

No One's Indispensable



In The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist posits a country that mandates free lodging, food, and recreation for all men and women who are past child-bearing age and have still not procreated. However there is a catch. In order to be useful to their communities, all of these "dispensable" people are required to serve as guinea pigs for health experiments, and to have their tissues and organs harvested when needed, making the "ultimate sacrifice" as heart and lung donors. On her 50th birthday, writer Dorrit Weger enters the Second Reserve Bank and is shown her apartment. At the nightly welcoming party, she meets several like-minded people and begins to enjoy new friendships created through proximity and mutual interests. Since she is very physically fit and youthful, she is first assigned to a study measuring the effects of exercise on older women. But while she participates in this study, her friends start having health problems related to their assignments, and some of them disappear. Surprisingly, she falls in love with one of the men in her unit and the resulting complications threaten the whole equilibrium of this government program.
The Unit is a chilling peek at logic gone awry-Holmqvist creates a very believable future where the rights of individuals are suspended for the good of the public. Expect discussions to be heated.

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