Gary Hardwick, writing under the pseudonym a. a. Clifford,
delivers an original, thought-provoking look at the future in his latest novel entitled Sex
Life. Don't let the title fool you, Sex Life is more than a novel about sex
in the future. It is a commentary on social values not only in the future, but also in the here and now.
The novel is set in New York
City, or First City, in the year 2263 A.D., years after the Kank War has killed off one-third of the Earth's population. Society
has settled into a Utopian existence where there is no racism, poverty or crime, and intelligence is respected even more than
beauty. The downside to this Utopia is that all of mankind is afflicted by a disease called Chronic Metabolic Breakdown, otherwise
known as CMB. CMB is lethal, and the only way to avoid death is to have sex five times each day. However, sex is no longer
a pleasurable undertaking, it is just a means to an end-staying alive hence the title Sex
Life. Sex is such a necessary component of life that rooms are set aside for people to get fixed whenever the need arises,
and prostitution has become a highly respected profession. Emotions are nonexistent, and pretty much everyone is on anti-depressants
as a way of coping with the emptiness of their lives. Instead of seeking drugs that numb their existence, people are looking
for drugs that will cause them to feel something, especially the pleasures of real sex.
Living in First City is Joe, a typical resident. He seeks intellectual stimulation
and deals with the effects of the disease just as everyone else does. Joe spends a fair amount of time pondering the meaning
of life, and wondering what it would be like to actually feel real emotions. Joe's life takes an unexpected turn when he meets
Vella, a beautiful and mysterious woman, together they experience real emotion and real sex. The repercussions of these phenomena
have far-reaching implications for the couple as well as for the world at large.
If the reader can get past the unemotional, detached style that Clifford uses
to narrate the story (which is a reflection on the emotionless state of Joe himself) the jewel in this work can be discovered.
Clifford has created a novel that can be read both literally and metaphorically. And while the literal reading is entertaining,
it is the deeper implications and metaphorical comparisons that make this book an interesting, thought-provoking read. The
readers must ask themselves if intellectual enlightenment will only come through the loss of sensory pleasure. Even more interesting
is the commentary that Clifford seems to be making about our current society's obsession with sex and the lack of emotion
attached to it. The novel offers a bleak outlook of what life can become if this obsession becomes the norm. Just consider
this irony: it is not only acceptable, it is necessary for the residents of that society to have ridiculous amounts of casual
sex, yet people hate it and seek out drugs to actually make them feel something. The exact opposite is often true in our current
society. Sex Life demonstrates that the grass is not always greener, sometimes
it is diseased. Leave any preconceived notions about the title at the door and open the book and your mind to a thought-provoking
journey that will challenge you to consider your own values about sex, love and life.
The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for SexLife is
3.5 out of 5 stars. We welcome your comments and thoughts about this book
review. Please e-mail us: NubianCircleClub@aol.com.