Synopsis (from book jacket):
The Edict is a novel of heart-stopping suspense and brilliant imagination that conjures up an all-too-believable future a time when the uncontrolled growth of the human population has pushed the world to the brink of total disaster.
The earths resources have been strained to the utmost, and in many parts of the world open cannibalism and food riots are commonplace. Seeking a solution to the crisis, the leaders of the WorldGov meet in emergency session. Their computers spin through billions of facts, and the reports are more than disquieting they are chilling. Further growth of the population is unthinkable, and the leaders finally settle on the only possible solutions, which is soon announced by the World Gov satellite.
All citizens stand by, it intones. This is an edict from WorldGov. In the interest of balancing the population, and preserving the food supply, the birth of any baby is forbidden for the next thirty years. Any man and woman who conceive and have a child during that period will be put to death by the State. Any child conceived will be considered an outlaw child, and will also be liquidated. There will be constant surveillance by StatePol and a large reward in extra calories for any citizen who reports the presence of an outlaw child. That is all.
To give the world some semblance of normalcy, realistic mechanical babies are devised to pacify the maternal instincts of 10 billion women. But to Carole Evans, the very idea of accepting one of the robot infants is abhorrent. She wants and needs a real child, and this slowly becomes an obsession
Let me set the tone: I dont think we ever know the year when this story takes place. However, the technology is far more advanced than what we presently have. Regardless, the world has become one big shithole, to put it mildly. There was a major pollution and food crisis. People live on top of one another in the pockets of the world that are safe from radiation. Life expectancy has reached 150 due to cures for cancer, disease and the like, and births are rampant. All flora and fauna are extinct (except for special museums) and people pretty much live off plankton and algae. I think the typical calorie ration is about 650 calories per day, and it fluctuates. There is a major announcement made at 11 PM every night as to the calorie ration for the next day. Machines and robots have replaced most jobs, so WorldGov created opportunities for people to do something, like move bricks back and forth on a sidewalk, so they feel important and dont go insane with boredom. Suicides happen regularly and WorldGov makes it very easy for the older population to off themselves by providing a euthanasia of sorts. The less mouths to feed, the better, right? Marriage has disappeared because the main reason for its existence has been lost. People still have steady partners, but sex knows no boundaries in this world and the meaning of swingers is put to an entirely new use.
And thus, the setting for a very interesting look into the human psyche and how we handle prohibition of a basic human right and a biological need.
In order for this scenario to work, theyve brainwashed women into thinking these life-like robot children are real. Carole tried to make this situation work for her, but she is absolutely horrified at the thought of having a robot for a child. She needs to have a baby, a real baby. She lures Russ into the decision, and the rest of the story is a suspenseful ride as the constant threat of discovery hangs over their heads. The end will produce a tear or 2, but Ill let you decide if its happy or sad ones.
This world in The Edict is pretty damn sad, but there is a silver lining through the smog. Its an engrossing dystopian plot that challenges the reader to think about how they would feel in Carole and Russ situationhow it would feel to have the most important and primal human righteliminated. I first read this book about 15 years ago. My mother introduced me to it and we loved to sit around and talk about it. I bought the book for my husband for his birthday last year and I decided to pick it up again. I am glad that I did. It is still as good as I remember. This book is out of print, but you can likely find a copy in your library, or a cheap used copy online.