Second, third and fourth paragraphs of third chapter:
And then, even more quickly, he was awake again. Wide awake, instantly aware of who and where he was, motionless in bed, reaching out with all his senses for whatever it was that had wakened him. He couldn’t identify it. But neither could he escape the conviction that something was…well, not wrong exactly, Annie was sleeping soundly beside him, so probably nothing could be seriously wrong. But something was definitely…
I know that there are a lot of Spider Robinson fans out there, but I’m not hugely convinced on the basis of this, “Stardance” (co-written with his wife) and Variable Star (finishing a discarded Heinlein manuscript). It’s not the worst of the books that I have been reading which are set in 2023, but I’m afraid that is not saying much.
The setting is an American theme park in 2023, where our twelve-year-old protagonist decides to establish himself as a runaway from desperate circumstances. He befriends a woman who has been living undercover in the park since before he was born, and then both need to deal with the ongoing threat posed to them by park security, and also incidentally the time travellers from a doomed future who have started appearing in the park’s midst.
The future technology here is entirely to do with surveillance systems and how to evade them, and the weapons used by the various goons. It’s not very exciting, really, and misses the key point that could have been made about the political dominance of the entertainment induistry. The story offensively romanticises homelessness and disability. Too much of the plot depends on just happening to be in the right place at the right time for it to be believable even on its own terms. It’s difficult also to see who the intended audience are – the protagonist is twelve, as mentioned above, but the violence is pretty squicky for a YA book. But if you want to, you can get it here.
Books set in 2023:
Revelations of the Dead-alive (aka London and Its Eccentricities in the Year 2023), by John Banim (1824)
Looking Further Backward, by Arthur Dudley Vinton (1890)
The Bedlam of Immortals, by Enki Bilal (1980)
Islands in the Net, by Bruce Sterling (1988)
The Turing Option, by Harry Harrison with Marvin Minsky (1992)
Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy, by Matt Ruff (1997)
Killing Time, by Caleb Carr (2000)
The Free Lunch, by Spider Robinson (2001)