Short story review – Evan Shapiro’s The Counting
The Counting (Cilento Publishing, 2020, 33 pages)
This story may be set in the future, but its themes are very contemporary, and a welcome relief from the optimistic diatribes of large corporations and politicians. We need more dystopian narratives like Evan’s. The Counting is technological science fiction, but in some ways a very contemporary view of social relations. China watchers, for example, will enjoy an account of what it’s like to be almost constantly surveilled with an authoritarian regime calling the shots - individual behaviour that is monitored and assessed for credit is just what happens in contemporary China. In the context of a capitalistic and notionally free enterprise society, we ought note that the practices of Google and Facebook may be portrayed as expressing the cultural values of freedom and creative individuation, but really their harvesting of data is just a path to the capture of our selfhood by a self interested ‘collective’. This is precisely what The Counting describes.