What Would the World Look Like If They Win?

A book review of ‘The Mirror’ by Tim Bragg (Sycamore Dystopia)

By Wayne Sturgeon

Tim Bragg is an engaging writer, novelist, poet and multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter and musician with an impressive bibliography of both fiction and non-fiction works and recorded albums to his credit, the very latest being the cyber gothic slow burner and critically important ‘The Mirror’ (Sycamore Dystopia 2023).

The Mirror is a dystopian novel set in a not too distant future – 2073 – where humanity is held captive in a society completely run by a system of artificial intelligence and technocracy similar to that envisaged by both one-time Fabian socialists Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and George Orwell (1984), both of whom portrayed ‘one world’ collectivist states run by an elite of central planners where life, language, media and ‘entertainment’ are completely regulated and controlled.

Bragg offers a very compelling and highly relevant take on this theme for the contemporary times, with a story more reminiscent of the film ‘Blade Runner’ (itself based on the novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by the gnostic Philip K Dick) and Mary Shelley’s classic ‘Frankenstein’, but with a much more uplifting and positive affirmation of the human capacity for self- transcendence through the essence of creativity and art; the nature of art being one of the central themes of the book but also how art can be captured and simulated by technology (witness now how AI can itself write poetry and paint images of incredible complexity etc.).

There is a cryptic relevance in the story to how the world changed in 2030. Some of the characters in the book who hold positions of power have names that appear rather ‘hipster’ or eco-themed although the world they inhabit is anything but ‘natural’ – cloning, eugenics, genetic engineering and mass surveillance. Even personal reproduction, itself reduced to life inside something resembling a panopticon, is closely screened in the name of ‘mother earth’.

Given that Tim Bragg is connected with the excellent ‘Off The Left Eye’ YouTube channel, having composed music for some of its broadcasts and podcasts which serve to popularise the esoteric Christian spirituality of the 18th Century Swedish mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg, it was no surprise to see space given in the book to themes of human immortality in the face of individual extinction, particularly as one central character has a near-death experience, this theme being central to the novel’s central premise – do humans and nature have a Soul or Spirit?

Are we Soul and Spirit, or merely biological machines with neither? Does consciousness actually exist independently of the mind? Do we think thoughts or are thoughts thinking us? What does it mean to be human? (Another work worthy to be mentioned in this context here would be C.S. Lewis’s ‘That Hideous Strength’, an anti-transhumanist classic.)

Tim Bragg has succeeded in writing a highly readable novel depicting what the world would look like should Klaus Schwab’s vision of the Great Reset and Agenda 2030 actually come to fruition and succeed in reducing all of humanity to automatons. Given the indefatigable spirit of humanity though, Bragg gives us much inspiration to suggest that a single blade of grass could cut through concrete given time and genuine human values like compassion, friendship and love and the redeeming capacity of art to transcend and ennoble life which will win through in the end somehow.

This is a multi-layered work with good characterisation and many textures and tones which slowly draws the reader in, with twists and turns in the tale amidst a mounting fear that builds to its shocking conclusion. A gripping polemic against transhumanism which succeeds without either preaching or condemning but clearly displaying the author’s obvious empathy and sensitivity to the human condition.

From the opening chapter of The Mirror:

The Mirror, by Tim Bragg, 2023

Tim Bragg writes novels, short stories, poems and songs. Some of his novels are in print and some exist in the ether. His short stories have appeared in various literary magazines and have won prizes and literary awards. As a musician he writes lyrics and songs and often plays all the various instruments. Through writing he tries to highlight the “unusual” in the seemingly “ordinary”.

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