Sunday, April 11, 2010

LIMIT - What is the energy future of our world?

States lose their sovereign exercise of power. The future belongs to global enterprises. Business and investment opportunities outrank local development concerns and consumer protection. We still vote for elected politicians, but our vote no longer has any importance. The votes we take with our wallet determine what happens in the world.

And most importantly: The future belongs to a new kind of energy. The global enterprise "Orley Industries" owned by billionaire Julian Orley produces highly efficient Helium-3 on the moon and sends down to earth in a space elevator. A little ride away from the Helium-3 fields, Orley is about to open the first hotel in space.

The novel "Limit" by Frank Schätzing (currently only available in German, but most certainly translated within the next few months) shows the world as it might be in 2025. The author paints a slightly exaggerated but often enormously interesting and sometimes eyebrow-raisingly realistic picture of the world as it could be. Although the 1300-page book starts out rather slowly and readers have to remember a range of characters and places, the carefully conceived plot soon has you hooked and makes this book a page turner.

Yet, while the storyline is thrilling (a young Chinese dissident and blogger discovers a plot against Orley Industries with enormous economic consequences - and has to fear for her life as killers find her trail), for me the main value of this book is the brave new world it proposes. In between the action, Schätzing has his characters think back to "that minor financial crisis in 2008", discuss the demise of oil, ponder the eco-city "Dongtan" currently built outside Shanghai, breach the topic of the Chinese ankang and many more deeply interesting viewpoints, seen from the perspective of 2025.

And in contrary to Huxley's "Brave New World" and Orwell's "1984", Schätzing's "Limit" is not so far beyond the limits of imagination. Indeed, several times I found myself hoping that the world might become as Schätzing conceived it - while at other points you anxiously hope that our politicians won't cave in to global players as much as it is described in the book.

After his two political books "The Swarm" (nature fights back at human beings) and "Lautlos" (highly sophisticated terrorist attack on US president Clinton), Schätzing again wrote a well-researched book that raises your political knowledge and keeps you entertained along the way. Definitely an interesting read for those people passionate about the future of our planet.

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