The UK’s new megacities: contented citizens relieved of the burden of home ownership, living in eco-friendly communities. Total surveillance has all but wiped out criminal activity, and biometric sensor implants detect illness even before symptoms are apparent.
That’s the hype. Scratch the surface, and darker stories emerge.
Tara is offered the chance to become a princess amongst media influencers—as long as she keeps quiet and does as she’s told.
Aileen uproots to the megacity with some reluctance, but none of her misgivings prepare her for the situation she will face: a mother’s worst nightmare.
Radar has survived gang rule in group homes for the homeless, prison and bereavement, and jumps at the chance to live a ‘normal’ life. But at what cost?
For all three, the price of living in a megacity may prove too high.
Megacity is the third and final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy, and is Terry Tyler’s twenty-third publication.
‘As long as some of us are still living free, they have not yet won. Anyone who refuses to live as they want us to has beaten them. That’s how we do it. That’s how we win.’
I read a digital copy of Megacity.
Megacity is the third and final chapter in the post-apocalyptic, dystopian Operation Galton series, following on from Hope and Wasteland, both of which I read in late 2020. Since it had been a while I was grateful for the quick recaps included for both Hope and Wasteland. Each of these three books are set in the same world, but they would also work as standalone novels. There are occasionally recognisable characters from the other books referred to as legendary heroes or who we now see making a cameo as part of the resistance, but you do not need to know who these characters are to fully enjoy each story.
All Terry Tyler’s books I have read have been completely gripping and Megacity was no different. Split into three separate time frames in a UK of the not too distant future, the terrifying events and lack of control over their own lives and destinies had by the people in this nightmarish dystopia is chilling.
Operation Galton Phase 3 took place back in 2024: the opening of the Hope Villages, and thus the removal of undesirables from the general population. Phases 4-9, nicknamed the Great Shift, occurred over the next three decades: the transition from property ownership and relative independence, to the tightly controlled megacities.
Megacity follows the fortunes of three main characters, Tara, a child of druggie alcoholic parents who is ‘saved’ from life in a Hope village and fostered by members of the mega-rich Bettencourt family behind the all-powerful Nutricorp corporation which has the government in their pocket. Tara wants for nothing but soon learns her compliance with the Bettencourts is non-negotiable. Tara was my favourite character – she seemed to grab every opportunity that was offered to her and make the best of whatever was on offer to her. She was not afraid to stick up for herself or question things that seemed a little ‘off’.
Tara’s childhood friend Radar is left behind in one of the hopeless Hope villages and falls in with the wrong crowd, soon becoming a violent gang member in the absence of Tara’s stabilizing influence. There is no way out of the Hope villages for their poverty-stricken inhabitants, unless they earn enough to be able to move out into one of the Megacities where everything is monitored by a personal communication device. His life seems to be on a downward spiral until he ends up in Hope 18 after a stint in prison and becomes one of the warden’s orderlies. Thereafter he finds himself on an upwards trajectory but the high point is a horrific role in an unbelievably barbaric scheme providing entertainment to the mega rich.
Aileen is abandoned by her husband who leaves her and their eighteen month old daughter to escape into the off-grid wasteland. Aileen is left destitute with no hope for decent employment. The system tracks her lack of income, social media conversations, unsuccessful job applications and every payment, and the powers that be are therefore aware that she can only afford to buy food at the cheapest possible places and will not be able to meet her rent very soon. A Social Care Liaison Officer is sent round to visit her and before long she is tricked into signing her daughter over to an NPU (non-parental upbringing) program, supposedly for a short while until she can sort her life out, but months soon turn into years with her daughter failing to recognize her before long. Her life has turned into a nightmare through no fault of her own:
I wonder if the worst times in your life blur in your memory so that you’re not constantly reliving the anguish, the memory acting as a buffer, so you can move on.
Aileen’s story is a tragic example of how little influence you would have over your own life when the government and large corporations hold all the cards and are monitoring your every move. Maybe this novel should act as a wake-up call to all who read it:
“We should have prepared for this a year ago, but we didn’t believe it would get this bad. We thought there would always be options, however awkward.
Each of the characters experiences a slow awakening to the horror and reality of the world they are living in. This awakening occurs over the course of many years and the pace of the first two thirds of the book is fairly slow as we get to know these new characters and discover how things have developed in this world ruled over by the super rich Bettencourt famiy. Finally the hopelessness and despair ramps up until the final quarter of the book, which, as with Terry Tyler’s other books, is all action and completely unputdownable right up until the surprisingly satisfying conclusion! There is always hope and decency to be found among the characters and horrors of Tyler’s stories, no matter how bleak things seem. I highly recommend Megacity.
About the Author
Terry Tyler is the author of 23 publications on Amazon, most recently within the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genres. Her latest book is expected this spring: Where There’s Doubt is a psychological drama/thriller about a conman and his victims. The inspiration for this was her proofreader, who said she didn’t want to work on another b***dy book about the end of the world.
Terry lives in the North East of England with her husband. Aside from writing, she can be found taking long walks and photographs of trees, wishing she lived at the seaside, watching TV (series such as like The Shield, Dexter, Yellowstone and the The Walking Dead, with which she is obsessed). Also blogging about writing, TV and other random stuff, reading novels and non-fiction about history, anthropology, travel and current affairs, playing Wordle and chatting/arguing on Twitter, though she is on a twelve-step programme to wean her off the latter.