A lament for the bygone era of the rambling, overstuffed bookstore and the printed word—a feeling all the more keenly felt while reading this story on a tablet—The Paperless Doctrine of 2152 is a story of loss and regret and good old fashioned sci-fi tinged future-world paranoia.
The story centers on two men on the day of their final meeting: Mr. North, a somewhat reluctant anti-paper government operative, and James, the aging relic and drug-addicted proprietor of the last bookstore—Notable Narratives—now a dusty and forgotten museum cum mausoleum. It is a story set in a world that has moved on, a world unconcerned for its past, even looking to violently eradicate it, where paper has become outlawed, out-dated, and even hated. It is a world where technology has rendered the written word itself somewhat obsolete.
Aaron Wilson weaves a melancholy and deftly paced story that is intriguing and thought-provoking, a tale very evocative of classic sci-fi. Peppered with well-placed bits of world building, it paints a strong picture of the two characters, men not quite fit for their world, both of them desperate and buckling before the inevitability of the New age that is dawning. While obviously not dealing with the same topics, the story’s tone still reminded me quite a bit of the sci-fi cinema of the 1970s, movies like Soylent Green, Omega Man, and Logan’s Run, in that it takes us on a tour of a terrifying familiar world, showing us just how frighteningly close to our own it is. I mean, like I said, I was reading it on a tablet…
But best of all, I liked that it ended on the tiniest breath of hope.
Check it out,