An archaeologist makes a series of incredible finds and becomes involved, professionally and personally, with the Cabinet minister who made funding available for the dig. In a repressive political climate, Kate and Dan become increasingly concerned by the ramifications of the relationship, and the unsettling interest shown by the ambitious minister in the Heroic Age.
Ragnarok is a terrifying apocalyptic novel inspired by the invasive politics and surveillance culture of contemporary Britain.
One theme of this novel is the abuse of power by government ministers - and the ambitious staff of the agencies which they create and exercise some, but perhaps not sufficient, control over. As with Frankenstein’s monster, these creatures, synthesized in the great UK laboratory-of-the-police-state, may yet embarrass their political masters.
The United Kingdom as a totalitarian state, ruled by an invasive, omniscient, executive power, was best exemplified by George Orwell in the novel 1984. Many of his ‘Big Brother’ predictions are now coming to fruition thro’ the proliferation of cameras, databases, profiling, and information-driven policing by a myriad of competing agencies, in what is aptly described as a surveillance society.
Despite massive immigration in recent years, Britain retains a largely homogeneous Anglo-Saxon population, with the Teutonic tendency to march in-step and repress radical expression. The largest media organization, the BBC, on whose practices Orwell modelled his Ministry of Truth, and which inspired the term ‘newspeak’, is more beholden than ever, in a fractured market, to its political paymasters. There is no written constitution, and despite notional developments in human rights law, savagely criticized by the media oligarchs and the demagoguery, recent trends in UK government policy are geared towards policing without the expense and inconvenience of the courts.
The other theme of this novel is fantastical. Utilization of a supernatural myth which, unlike Orwell’s inspiration for his keenly sketched description of dystopic government ministries, is not sourced from contemporary reality.
These disparate themes are linked by a common quest-ion. What dark force drives the controlling instinct, for some it is a compulsion, in that most dangerous of entities in the digital age - the politician?
The Icelandic Old-Norse word Ragnarok roughly translates into ‘doom of the gods’; and in the context of the novel, it refers to apocalyptic supernatural events which strike London, the modern media-centric equivalent of Asgard in the UK, causing sufficient dislocation of government to permit a coup to be staged by extremists in the British establishment. To this end, an elite surveillance-security unit would be needed with a similar ethos to the German SS which destroyed the rival SA. The ‘anti-terror’ police, perhaps. The media currently parodies some aspects of anti-terror policing in subtle ways by reporting their involvement in minor cases which have nothing to do with terrorism. This situation has arisen from the misuse of Draconian powers which Parliament granted the police and security lobby without regard for civil-liberties.
Readers of the Levin Plays will note that all the recurring characters from past plays feature in this single tome and face a literary Ragnarok of their own. Jane, the wealthy financier; Kate, the archaeologist; Julia, the investigative journalist. Even Irene de Beauvoir, the actress whom Julia discovered has not aged since 1940, makes a brief cameo appearance.
This will not, of course, mark the end of the anthology, or even inhibit the drafting of future Levin Plays; but these new stories will have to take the form of prequels, occurring in the months or years before the totalitarian Apocalypse strikes.