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November 2037. Twenty years ago, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) caused by a coronal mass ejection from the sun struck continental United States, Canada and parts of South America. Nuclear safety systems across the impact zone failed catastrophically, resulting in meltdowns and explosions that rendered vast areas of the continent uninhabitable. Hundreds of millions died.
In a quiet corner of Colorado, not far from the EMP-safe area of Cheyenne Mountain Underground Defence Base, the city of New Elysium (population 300,000) has become the largest colony in the former United States. It’s the model and epitome of a new way of living: a community of cooperative gardens where the homes and buildings are all fashioned from recycled materials retrieved from the empty death zones of Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver City. It is a byword for harmony, survivability and purity, boasting the cleanest renewable energy generation system on the planet.
In New Elysium, there is no visible crime or conflict. Even the mildest of antisocial behaviour does not seem to trouble this picture-perfect community.
But Jakob Petersson, a camera operator with the local television station, has committed a crime. Or has he? The idea, the dreamlike shadow of a memory that he has of committing a crime, frightens, disturbs and obsesses him. We follow Jakob as he wrestles with the notion that he may have committed a crime, and struggles against an addiction to marijuana that seems to fragment and dislocate his personality.
Eventually Jakob is compelled to commit a series of offences that lead him to the truth of crime and punishment in New Elysium – a horrific revelation of the cruelty, slavery and deception that underpins this apparently idyllic new society.
The Reprint is an examination of identity and personality, an exploration of addiction and depression woven into a tale of the drive to build a perfect society no matter what the cost - and Jakob Petersson will pay the ultimate price.