Mark Cantrell, Author

For an eclectic mix of science fiction, fantasy and a touch of horror...


CITIZEN ZERO: A Taste Of The Living Prequel

Posted by Mark Cantrell on January 19, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Into the world of Citizen Zero

Snapshots of a dystopian novel's real life 'prequel'

Today's age of austerity has all the hallmarks of the backstory I had in my head when writing CITIZEN ZERO way back when in the late 1990s. For sure, I'm demonstrating an element of 'poetic license' but even so, it's as if current affairs is writing the prequel as we live and breathe today.


That's why over the last year or two, I've taken the liberty of posting links to news stories, comment blogs, and features from a variety of newspaper and magazine websites on my Tumblr site, and on Twitter, as well as the novel's Facebook page.


Naturally, I'm trying to plug my book, but there's also an – at least casual desire – to do my bit to raise awareness about the social issues and political causes bubbling away in the here and now; in a way, I also want to provide evidence of my novel's relevance to contemporary experience.


Granted, it can be taken too far. Indeed, in some respects, I think this 'backstory' or 'living prequel' (call it what you will) is beginning to exceed anything I ever envisaged.


There's also the – rather depressing – notion that for the society depicted in the novel to have come to life, today's austerity agenda, and the political campaigns it has provoked, means that the Coalition must have defeated any opposition. So I'll say, right here right now – don't be alarmed, it's a work of fiction.


CITIZEN ZERO was always, to my mind, as much an allegorical warning over the dangers of undermining or abandoning social justice, and  the deliberate creation of a society divided between rich and poor, as it was a grim but thrilling (I hope) story about one man's struggle to survive in a desperate situation.


But that's all an aside, really, for my purpose here, which is to try something a little different with these 'backstory' links. So, here's a recent batch of articles culled from the media, gathered into one neat little blog post.


Many of these might be considered to explore the creation of a socially excluded underclass, known in the novel as zeros, but others touch on the divide between rich and poor, and let's not forget the tools of an emerging authoritarian State…


Who's to blame for the crisis, bankers or benefit claimants?

The Guardian, 16 January 2014


Class is the real dividing line in British politics, but politicians only talk about the middle class. That will have to change




'Absolute poverty' of Victorian age has returned to the UK, says Labour MP

The London Evening Standard, 13 January 2014




The plight of the young and unemployed is truly scary – and this government seems to have no answers

The Independent, 12 January 2014




At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything

The Guardian, 6 January 2014


Protesters, buskers, preachers, the young: all could end up with 'ipnas'. Of course, if you're rich, you have nothing to fear




George Osborne is engineering a seismic change in the role of the state

The Guardian, 6 January 2014


The big argument the chancellor wants voters to digest is that the Tories are staying focused on The Plan




Eviction of tenants on welfare 'will create benefit blackspots'

The Guardian, 4 January 2014


A big landlord's decision to reject housing benefit claimants is the latest symptom of a trend that could see the low-paid excluded from whole areas of the country, says a leading charity





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