What Are We Reading?: The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman
Give me the short version: Cancer was finally bested, at the accidental cost of reduced lifespan, homogenized people and, cruelest of all, the loss of childhood altogether. Not even Milena realises she intends to change all this. The Child Garden is best known to those near me who have yet to read it as "The Sad Book". Every time I reach the ending sees me bawling with a suffocating burst of grief and joy, and I expect it will continue to do so right to the very last minute of my life. It would be an excellent test for pod people. To somebody not intimate with opera's functioning the structure was mysterious in places, but the story is powerful enough to be worth sticking with until you cotton on. What I regret most is not having discovered The Child Garden while at university. Reading it is the best cure for the isolation and emotional severance that comes from immersion in any big dense community, like ripping the band aid right off to let things air. But I can recommend it for city living just as well.