Book Review: The Dark Yergall – Jason Sullivan
Review: The Dark Yergall
I love dystopian novels even though they are bleak. Like sci-fi, dystopian novels speculate about what the future holds, but deliver a future that while advanced also seems frighteningly close to how we live today. Brave New World and 1984 are the best dystopian novels I have ever read but I am always eager to try and find rivals to their crowns. Would The Dark Yergall be such a book or a poor pretender?
Nosir Rag is a journalist who begins the story trying to locate Sarmus who has disappeared mysteriously. Sarmus was responsible for a taboo strain of thought where he considered living “at the front of the world” and this led to the ROC Uprising which was soon suppressed. Watching over the society Nosir is from is the Imkass Empire, rivalling Orwell’s Big Brother in many ways. Nosir’s hunt for clues about Sarmus lead him to some frightening discoveries that rock the foundations of everything he has ever believed.
Sullivan’s universe nods to 1984 but has a lot identity of its own. The Imkass Empire rule their subjects with manipulation and the insistence that theirs is a society of utopian proportions. InfoOrg Central is responsible for the distribution of all information in the form of InfoAlerts and any changes or updates to information come from InfoMods which are not to be questioned. Anything that is inaccurate or considered taboo is known as a DefectoMod. While DefectoMods are to be ignored, Nosir has taken to using them much to the dismay of those around him, including his friend Mainco. Having seemingly traced the whereabouts of Sarmus, Nosir is called back home, leaving Mainco to search further on Miranda.
Back in the heart of the Imkass Empire, Nosir meets the non-mod Epo who has some startling revelations for him courtesy of The Room of Never Was. The novel builds towards another peculiar race – the Yerggs – and we get to the heart of the book’s peculiar title The Dark Yergall. Although society contains aliens, GenMods (such as Nosir), non-mods (such as Epo) and even sexbots, there are some aspects of Sullivan’s world that don’t seem beyond possibility in our own future. The power of the media is expressed in the InfoAlerts which broadcast only what the Imkass Empire wants its subjects to know whereas the obsolete DefectoMods have a tendency to be the truth, although the word “truth” is not one that is used in this world.
The Dark Yergall is a well-structured and sometimes amusing dystopian novel with the Imkass Empire being utterly ruthless in their approach to those that rely on their every word. Such is the influence of the empire that the word Imkass is used to replace some words that humans may have previously used. In this world you wouldn’t for instance say “Kiss my ass!” you would say “Kiss my Imkass!” Sullivan has carefully applied layer upon layer of intricacy into this dystopia where the only truths are locked away and forgotten. My only complaint with the novel is it is sadly too short but the conclusion leaves this open potentially for further adventures from Nosir Rag. I’m hoping so anyway!
The Dark Yergall is an excellent dystopian novel, hindered only by its brevity, but that seems a minor complaint given how carefully thought out this world is. Sullivan clearly has a good grasp of modern societies and his vision is frighteningly plausible for our own future. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Nosir Rag in the not too distant future and preferably before the Imkass Empire really does rise to power.
(Book source: reviewer’s own copy)