Bill Broun’s debut novel mirrors some of the events of the past two weeks but in his dystopian future things really go wrong when Prince Harry takes over.
Bill Broun says he’s ‘weirded out’ when we speak just before the publication of his debut novel – Night of the Animals.
It’s the day after the Brexit vote and it’s not the standard first-time novelist jitters that have him rattled.
As his publisher is happy to point out Brexit is a turn of events foretold by his expansive dystopian novel – set in London in 2052.
I am weirded out too I tell him.
The experience of reading his novel so soon after the vote felt a little unnerving.
In Night of the Animals a British surveillance state is led by an alternate-universe Prince Harry.
He has broken the electoral system – elevated the monarchy and doubled down on existing class divisions.
In this nightmarish neoliberal dystopia access to the NHS is granted according to class and Britain’s welfare state has disappeared under the ‘Barenotecy Alimentation Act of 2025 and Positive Disenfranchisement Act of 2028’.
People classified as ‘indigent’ are kept away from the so-called ‘new aristocracy’ by the Red Watch – a policing force armed with deadly ‘neuralpikes’.
Meanwhile, the vanishing middle class has been subdued ‘with purchases of chocolate and lager’ as well as ‘jingoism – and an abiding unctuousness toward the rich’.
In case that doesn’t make it clear enough the world Broun imagines in his extraordinary debut is plagued by social and economic inequality.
The novel’s main character Cuthbert – is an indigent mentally-ill drug addict.
(The tipple of choice in Broun’s world is a hallucinogen called Flot.)