Summer reading: Christ came from Croydon, by John Redstone and Ulrich Thumult

By - Tuesday 30th August, 2016

Dark, dystopian, Croydonian… in the next of our series of Croydon-themed reading material, Sarah Timms looks into a troubling future with some familiar landmarks

Photo public domain.

The story of Christ Came From Croydon, a novel by John Redstone and Ulrich Thumult, is set twenty or thirty years into the future when the gap between rich and poor has become even wider than it is at present. The super-rich live behind high walls in huge gated communities, surrounded by bodyguards, while the poor struggle to find enough food to eat as this commodity has become so expensive. Unsurprisingly the wealthy are a target for hatred and anger and a group called the Movement wants to eliminate the gap between them and the rest.

The Movement uses stock market manipulation to fund its activities but there are dissenters within it who form their own breakaway group and that’s when the violence increases. What is needed is a hero and (perhaps surprisingly) he comes from Croydon.

His name is Russell Morgan: some believe that he is the new Messiah, whilst others are convinced that he is a fake. He has a simple message: “if the human race and all it has ever created disappeared tomorrow, who would miss us?”.

In 2036 sex is a robotic industry, we eat insects and terror attacks are ever-present

Keith Cole, an investment analyst, is the main character and it’s from his viewpoint the story is told. He has to endure this turbulent world where sex has become a robotic industry, insects are part of the mainstream diet and terrorists threats are ever present. Despite all of this he still attempts to continue advising people on investments.

Image by John Redstone and Ulrich Thumult, used with permission.

Now I’m a fan of dystopian novels but this novel is slightly, and interestingly, different. There is no gung ho main character striving to cross the country in an effort to find loved ones, no race to find any kind of cure. Instead you have a mild-mannered man whose job is as a city trader and who witnesses the effects of these troubles on the trading world.

The story travels all over the world but Croydon is mentioned numerous times, particularly East Croydon station next to which the queen (a fifty-something Queen Catherine, one assumes, as no clues are provided) opens a new skyscraper, the seventh tallest in the world. (Enjoy your status while it lasts, Saffron Tower.) The story has similarities to our world today with social unrest and acts of extreme violence committed in the name of creating ultimate peace.

“He could trade Pontius Pilate’s soul to the devil and still make a profit”

I did enjoy the story, once I’d muddled through the technical insider trading talk. It is not a religious book. Nor is it a light read: the story twists and turns with some parts that will make you stop and think hard about where we are headed. There is some dark humour, such as a nice Biblical allusion that stood out: “he could trade Pontius Pilate’s soul to the devil and still make a profit”.

I found the comparison to today’s world quite thought-provoking. The richer are indeed getting richer and the poor poorer. Is this an insight into things to come? I hope not. I hope that our humanity allows us to pull together to ensure the survival of our species, but sometimes it’s hard to see how it could happen. Maybe we should stick around in Croydon and keep our fingers crossed.

Sarah Timms

Sarah Timms

Sarah is a committed special needs teacher, born and raised in Croydon. A passionate book-lover, she wants to see high quality education and opportunity for every child in the borough and believes that working constructively to change things beats complaining every time. She's really into cats, and also zombies.

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