In Edgar Scott’s new dystopian novel “418: I Am a Teapot,” we find ourselves in the near future. The economy is wildly split between the haves or have nots, with a wide gap in between. People are given the option to live within a completely virtual world, traveling, creating families, doing drugs and living a virtual existence. While they bask in the shininess of the Internet, however, their bodies are being used for the mundane jobs that none of us want to do…or the ones that it would be easier to pay less for. While your body is picking up garbage and being fed by a tube, your mind is off gambling in Las Vegas, lounging in opium dens or eating vast virtual meals that never make you gain weight.
One can choose this existence in the novel – or they can be forced into it because of debts or crimes, or even born into it. It certainly does seem easier than a real life of toil. So, is it human nature to take the easiest path?
In the world that Scott has created, it does seem like most people do wish for a life free of pain with everything at their disposal. Certainly we can see this trend in our own world. Afraid to confront someone in person? Do it online and stay anonymous. Don’t want to leave the house? Order things off a website and get them sent to you. We spend so much time in our own world distracting ourselves from real life by watching videos, playing games and doom scrolling through social media. In the novel, it does seem like most people are willing to accept that as the status quo.
However, we meet two characters that want something else. Brian is a man who runs a staffing company, employing the bodies of people who have chosen to rent them out while living an easy virtual life. Brian, however, doesn’t want to live that life himself. He doesn’t want it for his wife and son. He prefers the real, dirty and difficult world to a shiny facade. It doesn’t matter that his world is hard, that money is tight, and that his family is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. He wants reality.
When one of his staff becomes self-aware because of an accident, Brian gets a real look at what the online world is really like. That staff member? He’s shocked out of his world of virtual gambling and drugs, and given a look at what the real world is. It’s a far cry from the glossy perfection he’s used to. Instead of wanting to go back, a grim reality starts to draw him away from a fake utopia.
What Scott shows us in “418” is that it’s not really about what’s easier and brighter. He lets us see that while it’s easy to take the virtual path when we don’t think about it, a little scratch in the surface of a mirror makes us unable to see anything but its flaws. We as humans do want an easy path, but when we’re confronted with the idea of being trapped without freedom, for most of us, freedom becomes far more desirable than having everything at our fingertips. Scott says, “Is this our future? Perhaps. The novel presents a potential future and so it does serve as a warning about going too far.”
So would you become “staff?” Would you give up your sometimes difficult life and control of your body for an easy virtual existence? Would you take the easier path? Don’t miss Edgar Scott’s “418: I Am a Teapot” on Amazon now.