The Hope by James Lovegrove (2011 book #1)

Originally written in 1988 and published in 1990, The Hope is Lovegrove’s first novel. Set on a giant ship that’s on a generation-long journey to a promised land, it’s presented as a series of vignettes depicting life on board the ship across all the different levels of it. At first, this does seem like you’re reading a series of disparate short stories that merely share a setting, but then as the book progresses the stories begin to dovetail into each other, later information shedding new light on earlier stories until they come to seem a consistent whole.

There’s a very strong Ballardian influence on Lovegrove in this book, right down to the idea of people in a vast representation of modernity beginning to act in new and strange ways that seem like madness to us, but are entirely reasonable and sane to them. In this context, the Hope (the name of the ship as well as the novel) is like the tower from High-Rise shifted to the horizontal and set adrift on the seas. It doesn’t reach the same literary heights or perceptive depths as Ballard at his best, but it makes for an interesting – if somewhat short – read.