Beekay isn’t exactly a hero. But it’s the year 2020 and like fifteen million others, he’s short of cash. So Beekay sets out to do a bit of smuggling with his Uncle Franklyn.
Nothing goes right for Beekay. First the Pox dogs chew hoim up – then the army calls him up.
He doesn’t fancy getting gassed in one of Europe’s endless wars. But that means evading Homer, a seven-foot albino psychopath sent after him by the military…
Enter Tommy and Moose, who can offer Beekay a safe passage to America – provided he kills a very important policeman first…
URBAN PREY depicts a future so chaotic and grim, you won’t want to live long enough to get there.
Title: Trauma 2020: Urban Prey | Author: Peter Beere | Series: Trauma 2020 #1 | Publisher: Arrow Books | Pub. Date: April 1984 | Pages: 198 | ISBN: 9780099347804 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased
Trauma 2020: Urban Prey Review
There’s something kind of fascinating about living in an age where the dates of science fiction novels and movies have come and gone. Many people reading this won’t even have been alive in 1984, and 2001 has passed without space travel being that much of a thing. ‘Escape from New York’ was set in 1997, when people in that city were more likely to be watching ‘Titanic’ at the cinema than fighting each other for survival. ‘Blade Runner’ took place last month…
Peter Beere’s ‘Trauma 2020’ books will soon fall victim to the same problem. As the clock ticks down on 2019, it’s looking like 2020 won’t be the year many of us were hoping for (Prime Minister Boris, anyone?)… I’m hopeful that it won’t be quite as bad as the dystopian nightmare of ‘Urban Prey’ though. I first read this book as a twelve-year-old in 1985. It was published the year before, coming out around the same time as Alan Moore’s ‘V For Vendetta’ first made an appearance in the anthology comic ‘Warrior’. It’s not as good as Moore’s seminal work, but there are similarities between the two that speak to the pre-occupations of the British public at the time. It’s also a very entertaining read in its own right.
The book is the first in a trilogy and follows its petty criminal anti-hero narrator Beekay through a bleak, run-down vision of Britain, as he tries to avoid being conscripted to fight in a war against an undefined European enemy and escape the attentions of the fascist state. The plot is episodic, with Beekay lurching from one crisis to the next as he becomes involved in increasingly dangerous criminal activities and tries to dodge the hunter who has been dispatched by the military to track him down.
The Britain presented here is unrelentingly bleak but never feels particularly like science fiction. Perhaps deliberately, it seems more like an alternative version of 1940s wartime London than cutting edge vision of the future. The supporting cast of characters, especially Beekay’s amorous aunt, are familiarly British in their speech and actions. They smoke copious fags, swill beer in grotty pubs and eat Mars Bars.
What the book lacks in coherent narrative, it makes up for in vivid action. It is extremely violent at times, something that is made all the more real by Beekay’s reaction to the death and destruction around him. He’s a marvellously convincing coward, who drives the plot forward through indecision and avoidance rather than deliberate action. He’s also an extremely amusing and memorable narrator. There are lines here (many of which are not fit for repetition in polite company) which stuck with me over the decades since I first read them. It’s the black humour in the book that makes it work as well as it does. It might not be terribly convincing as science fiction, but Beekay is so likeable that it’s impossible not to root for him. That makes for a read that is involving and gripping despite its shortcomings.
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