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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
The Black Swan Event by Mikael Carlson is a speculative dystopian novel set in the year 2088 following a new world order where corporations have replaced the role of a democratically elected government. The public at large is composed of factions of the corporate hierarchy and a trickle-down economic system where those at the top reap almost all of the financial benefits and the resulting power that inevitably comes from wealth, becoming leaner and more restrictive in the lower classes. The story is told from multiple points of view ranging from directors, guardians, inspectors, and a student activist. America, Inc is ruled by patricians that unofficially outrank corporations. Those who have taken a dive underground and eschew a safety over freedom system are willing to take drastic measures to return the power where it belongs: into the hands of the people.
I love a good dystopian novel where oligarchs are openly pulling the strings in the day-to-day lives of the world's working class, as opposed to the reality of the real world today where they attempt to do so from the wings. The Black Swan Event is unapologetic in its honesty about how the world works but Mikael Carlson adds a Big Brother element to enshrine control, cripple the masses, and make the illusion of safety a pretext for what has the terrifying appearance of martial law and a military dictatorship in corporate form. The Oval Office operates as a board room. Information is controlled and anyone who steps out of line by the length of a toenail will face the consequences. Freedom isn't free, but neither is safety and authoritarianism. The most interesting character to me is Rykos, who is willing to throw himself into a terrorist movement to destroy the system, and his father, Teman, in the unenviable position of Chief Guardian while his son is working to decimate the East Coast. As an introduction to a saga, there are bound to be stretches that can feel like information dumps but I found the world-building to be compelling enough. I can also see about a thousand directions the book could spin off in as it homes in on the various sectors of a futuristic caste system. Fortunately, as far as continuity goes, there is a second book, Bounded Rationality, that Carlson has already unleashed. Recommended.