Compared with last weeks “Anna Karenina” “Vigilance” by Robert Jackson Bennett is a quick read. The action in the book also mostly takes place on a single evening.
“Vigilance” is a science fiction story set at some years in the future in America. The book was published just this January and builds upon current events. The climate change also gets mentioned on a sideline, but the main topic it expands on are the mass shootings that seem to happen every now and then in the USA. Many of those who insist on their right to own weapons conclude that that the normal good people should be armed. And if they were then they would prevent many of those tragedies by simply shooting the attacker before the attacker can kill any innocent people.
Bennett envisions a TV game show in which some selected attackers are brought into some area — a train station, a school, a mall or whatever — and then that area is closed and infested with drones that record everything. Nobody knows beforehand what area is chosen for the next “Vigilance”. And that’s the whole point. The citizens are expected to be vigilant. They are expected to be armed at all times and to be on the lookout for some attackers.
If one of the attackers succeeds to kill all people in that area, they win some amount of money. If the people in that area are vigilant enough and succeed to take down all attackers, they win some money.
Aside from that already gruesome action we also get a look at some possible developments in the advertisement sector, because a TV show is only successful if it succeeds to place fitting adverts at the right times. Yes, you can sell products while showing how people are killed.
There is a bit of “Running Man” in this book and near the end also a bit of “The Purge”. I’d like to think that it is improbable, but unfortunately with the current developments it cannot be ruled out.
“Vigilance” isn’t a deep book, but it makes you think and that’s good because more people should think about what reactions they demand to all those shootings.