“A politician addicted to dating apps embarks on an existential odyssey to save democracy from being swiped away.
In the aftermath of a continental civil-war, nation-states have collapsed, the European Union™ holds on, preventing anarchy.
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a leading member of The Federation®, the European network of civil society and local governments. Bastian has just been unexpectedly dumped through an app, the BreakupShop™ service. Heavy hearted, he just wants to drink, get on with work and forget his romantic woes.
However, he discovers that Nathan Ziggy Zukowsky is planning to sell Plebiscitum®, a dating-style app that is meant to replace elections with a simple swipe, at the same conference he is invited to attend in Chile. Haunted by the ghosts of his recent relationship, he finds himself without his all-important Morph® phone, just a few hours before embarking on his trip to try to save democracy.
Will he make it to his conference on the other side of the world? Will he stop Zukowsky from selling his app? And will he ever find a way to deal with his breakup?”
Today is my stop on the blog tour for Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro. A big thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for allowing me to take part in the tour for this unique book.
One of the aims I had when I started volunteering for blog tours was to find new genres and books that I would not normally choose in a book store and to push my reading out of its comfort zone, to stretch my literary horizons. This book marks the zenith of that goal so far.
We are dropped into a dystopian future, around one thousand years from now, as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist, Bastian Balthazar Bux. There has been a civil war in Europe which has destroyed the previous political delineations and the new zones are struggling to set up a different type of society. Balthazar is head of a European organisation that is trying to establish its influence in the new world order and he must travel from Eastern Europe across the globe to a conference in Chile, where he will launch an initiative to cement his organisation’s place in the international arena, and prevent the adoption of a political system run entirely by technology that he fears will effectively destroy democracy. Are you with me so far?
Despite the importance of this mission, Balthazar is side-tracked by his love life. He has just been dumped by an app which effectively wipes all your relationship history and contact with your former partner – the ultimate form of ‘ghosting’ – and this leads him to reflect on his previous relationship with Janine. Throw in the journey from hell where he keeps missing flights, has no sleep, and the fact that he has lost his phone, which is an even more tragic event in a world entirely beholden to technology, and Balthazar is having a hellish time.
This book is rich soup of events, memories, flashbacks, virtual conversations, dreams and hallucinations that had my head spinning and trying to figure out which parts were real and which were delusions, which was the authors clever way of reflecting the increasingly disoriented state that Balthazar finds himself in during his nightmare trip. I have never done drugs and this book is about as close as I imagine I am going to get to tripping.
One of the main themes of the book is the increasing reliance on technology and how far we should let it take over our lives, the dangers of becoming dependent on it for everything to the point where there is no longer such a thing as free will. This has been explored in books and films before but, despite the feeling on general unreality in the narration of this book, its predictions feel all too scarily possible. This coupled with the background of a disintegration of Europe and how the resultant power struggle might play out brings the story uncomfortably close to home in the current political climate we find ourselves in. Whilst reading the book, I had the same sense of unease I felt when first reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the feeling that the dystopian future portrayed in the book was not beyond the realms of possibility.
The main difference between this and many other dystopian books is the strong thread of humour running through the novel. You could boil this book down to being a story of misadventure in travel (if you ignored all the surrounding political themes) and we all know how funny stories of travel mishaps can be. The dating disasters were also relatable and amusing, and the humour lifts the whole book to a lightness that makes reading about some serious and thought-provoking topics easier. The sugar encasing the pill.
This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It has a style and subject matter outside the mainstream which I think a lot of people will shy away from. There are elements that make it tricky to read (the constant inclusion of trademark and copyright symbols in the text is distracting and seems odd and unnecessary to begin with, disrupting the reading flow, which annoyed me until I got to the explanation for it a third of the way through). However, it is a book that pays off for anyone willing to put in the effort and it addresses a lot of topical and relevant issues for today and tomorrow.
Disco Sour is out now in both paperback and digital format and you can buy a copy here.
If you would like to follow the tour and get a different take on the book, here are the details:
About the Author
As a political geographer, Giuseppe has always been interested in how the intersection between technology and politics is moving towards uncharted territories in the future. He has recently published a series of scientific articles about how the internet of things and algorithms will change policymaking. DISCO SOUR is his first experiment with fiction. it has been inspired by a mission to Chile he had in 2013. Back then, he was Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, the platform of youth organisations advocating for youth rights. And on his way to Santiago, he missed three connecting flights across two continents within the span of 72 hours.
Giuseppe works now as the head of communications for Bruegel, an international think tank specialised in economic policy. During the rest of the time, he DJs, reads, dreams, writes.
Connect with Giuseppe and Disco Sour:
Facebook: Disco Sour
Goodreads: Giuseppe Porcaro