Jukebooks: Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet

Pills and Starships by Lydia MilletIt’s a gloomy time in the not-so-distant future. The Earth has deteriorated so quickly that people born in our time have witnessed its full and brutal destruction. Now they are around one hundred years old, suffering from memories of fresh ocean breezes, shade-dappled forests, and starry blankets of night sky. All of these are gone. To assuage the pain of this global loss, people can sign a contract to end their lives in a simulation of the good ol’ times. The parents of seventeen year-old Nat and her fourteen year-old brother, Sam, have chosen to do just that. The whole family will fly to Hawaii for a highly scripted good-bye to Mom and Dad.

Part of the presentation involves evoking memories of the lost past. This includes music. On one evening they show a hologram of Maria Callas singing “Peace, Peace, My God” (“Pase, Pase, Mi Dio”), an aria included in Giuseppe Verdi’s The Force of Destiny (La Forza del Destino.) As Nat observes: “I’d never listened to opera before. I thought it would be high and screechy and flat boring, but this was – it is beautiful. I didn’t understand a word.” (p126)

Diane Colson, currently reading Fan Art by Sarah Tregay.