Review: The Psychic’s Memoirs

By Ryan Hyatt

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08F2YJFG8/

Reviewed by De Gevallene, November 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Like Alice, I can see the future. (Open your eyes you idiot! It’s not paranormal. Everyone can see the future!)

These must be difficult times for writers of dystopian fiction, poor dears. After all, just as people don’t read a lot of war stories when they’ve actually got a war on, I rather guess that when the world is already sliding down into climate catastrophe, when religion is being hijacked by death cults on one side and Christian evangelicals straight out of the Republic of Gilead on the other, when a plague is already devastating the world…. well, in such times I guess it must be pretty difficult to persuade people that their day would be improved by curling up with a nice escapist book about the end of civilisation as we know it.  (Yes folks, we spell it like that, it’s not a typo.) 

These times are tough enough in Europe. To the south of us, the sea is littered with drowned asylum seekers from Africa and Syria.  Look to the west, and you can have a ringside seat as the United Kingdom (in glorious slow motion and with a lot of blustering) stabs itself through the heart with a pitchfork in order to demonstrate how it won’t be pushed around by the only sane government left on the planet. And to the north and east there’s Putin and China and Saudi Arabia… well, enough said.   But it must be even tougher in the USA – what with your Beautiful Wall and kids in cages, whole states on fire due to climate change, a police force keeping order by kneeling on people’s necks and at least another couple of months with a decaying Vladimir Harkonnen in the driving seat. In such a world is there really a gap in anyone’s life that could be nicely filled by a fun storybook about the breakdown of civilisation?

Well, Mr Hyatt has certainly done his best and taken a brave stand for his artform.  The Psychic Memoirs has avoided the temptation of throwing us into one of those merrily far away and distantly futuristic worlds, where wicked rich people ponce about wearing lycra cat suits or monkish robes, while oppressed poor people look like mediaeval beggars (but with nice Californian teeth and attractive muscles) and live in a sewer.  He has clearly confronted the fact that one barely has to invoke the future to summon a dystopia, so his nasty imaginary world is set uncomfortably soon (well, we might have Trump back by 2026, anyway) rendered fictional only by the occurrence of an earthquake that’s bound to happen in those parts sooner or later anyway: that’s geology, not politics.  (Bet the poor chap was desperately praying it wouldn’t happen before his book got published…) The dispossessed look pretty familiar in this world, they were drawn from life.  The baddies were drawn from life as well, and the author didn’t have to look very far.

He’s clearly interested in politics – that’s always the best sort of dystopian fiction – but he’s also, happily, pretty interested in  character and plot.  So unlike some of its classic forebears, this book doesn’t read like a thinly disguised treatise, or not often, anyway.  It’s a riproaring story (I’m trying not to say ‘rollercoaster’ because I’m on a blog-tour with this book and I’m sure that’s the word used by a lot of his reviewers – I like to be original, but honestly, that is the word that comes to mind. Think on it – all that machinery, that little claustrophobic world, all built just so that you, dear reader, can enjoy that rising anxiety on your way to each peak and the stomach-churning loss of control on the way down, all those the twists and turns and wanting to get off but somehow you can’t.  That’s how it feels, reading this book, and even though you’re telling yourself it’s all artificial, just done to manipulate your emotions, you know you actually are too high up, and travelling much too fast.) OK. A rollercoaster then. I’ve said it now. Sorry.

He’s a comical fellow, this author. On his Twitter account he calls himself ‘@ucalthisreality’. (Frankly mate, do you call this fiction?) But he does have to draw a line, just so you know it’s a story not the latest from CNN, so he’s wrapped the narrative round a load of paranormal nonsense, just like fairy tales and the Bible do (though they call it magic and miracles).  Those are also genres that dance with our fears for the future and speak dark truths that are closer to home than we like.  And they preach a bit, just like this book sometimes does.  I don’t care. I can take a bit of preaching for a good cause, if the story is good enough. And it is.

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This review was conducted as part of a Blackthorn’s Book Tour. They kindly emailed me an electronic review copy. This is my honest review.