Leap Into the Future But Dream of the Past with Retroactivist By Nate Ragolia

book cover 2017

By Amanda Moses

Have you ever felt unaccomplished? As if everything you do is just mediocre and there is no new flow of inspiration to drive you forward. Author Nate Ragolia pens an incredible dystopian tale about Reid Rosales, a cartoonist living in the year 2087, who is experiencing that exact feeling. Ragolia concisely states this sentiment by writing, “The comic doesn’t bring me joy anymore. It doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night with ideas. It doesn’t feel like it’s good to me. It feels cheap.” The Retroactivist is a captivating science fiction novel that takes place in a time when there are no diseases or hunger, and citizens are encouraged to live a life of leisure, pursing any passion that they want. Despite being able to live until 163 years old and cooking food through a microwave-like replicator, Rosales feels discontent. His miserable demeanor is not placated by his surroundings of technological advancements, medical robots or the overly pleasant citizens. He longs for a different time, an older time.

Rosales reminds me of a Woody Allen character, played by Owen Wilson, in the film Midnight in Paris, which is about an author dissatisfied with his surroundings and unsure of his writing. He longs for the past—specifically the roaring 1920s filled with love, laughter and the talented Ernest Hemingway. However, Rosales’ experience is a little more radical than Wilson’s, since he joins Club 20c, an organization dedicated to the good-old fashion 20th century lifestyle, when you had to work hard to achieve your goals and people had a purpose. However, this group becomes more like Mr. Robot’s FSociety, tearing down the United Sociocracy of the Americas’ (U.S. of A) framework. The pursuit of the past way of life may have been well-intentioned, but the results were not what was expected.

Rosales’ blind determination to find passion in his life through recreating the past only superficially benefited himself. His drive was about making himself feel compassionate towards a goal—one that creates revolution and disorder to a Utopian society. But little did Rosales know that everything he wanted was not what it seemed.

Ragolia’s novel may be about a futuristic society, but it alludes to our current political system and the way our government oversees laws and citizens. Simple things like healthcare and our right to vote (and to vote wisely) is such a crucial part of our world, and yet it seems to always be on a balancing beam of Republican versus Democrat.

I would recommend The Retroactivist to anyone who enjoys reading about a futuristic society where the world is regulated in a similar way to George Orwell’s 1984 (but not as totalitarian), or just someone who wants to break free from the mold of political rhetoric and enter into a Twilight Zone-esque atmosphere.

The Retroactivst is the first of many novels to be printed by publisher Spaceboy Books LLC., a science fiction publisher seeking adventurous novels that break the mold.