Lost Continent by Greg Egan

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

The story starts with Ali in Khurosan, which I understand to be in the Pakistan region. Khurosan appears to be a target for tyrants from the future to provide arms to warring factions within the country, fuelling inherent conflict in the region – perhaps taking advantage of existing animosities. At the time the story begins, the Scholars have taken over, and they were meant to be bringing peace to the region. But where people had previously worked to keep their young men and boys safe from recruitment, whether Sunni or Shi’a, the Scholars exploit the differences between the two groups and revive old animosities.

When the story begins, Ali is given by his uncle to a man with a Land Cruiser who promises a better life for him in the future; essentially, a paid smuggler. They travel for three days in the Land Cruiser, and then they reach a bridge – a whirlwind time vortex that enables travel to any and every time and place, by the sounds of things. The man finally selects a path through the bridge, and Ali lands up in, I’m assuming, Australia.

What then ensues is a stark parallel to the treatment of illegal immigrants around the world. Essentially arrested, placed in camps indefinitely and having their stories disbelieved… Sound familiar? With the added twist of time travel and parallel realities, so that the future Ali lands in is not *his* future, which means that his past is not the past of the present, which makes it easier for his story to be disbelieved. Not very complimentary of the Australian government – not sure if that was the point, but that would have been bound to come out of such a story.

Excellent story, and good insight into the plight of illegal immigrants around the world – especially those fleeing conflicts at home.

 

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