Barbara G Louise’s fourth and concluding installment in her Rabble and the Rich tetralogy (all of which can be read as standalone novels) chronicles the consequences of an anti-capitalist revolution on an alternate Earth that spreads across America—and the world.
Set initially in the mid 21st century, the story follows Sally Solley, a nearly 60-year old chief technician in the pathology lab at a Cleaveland hospital. After watching soldiers who were part of a militaristic government takeover needlessly murder a friend, Solley’s life changes instantly. “I became a determined revolutionary, dedicated to replacing the dog-eat-dog ideology of Capitalism with the more human-centered ideals of Socialism, particularly … Voluntary Socialism.”
Solley—an “anarkhist-Lesbian”—joins the revolution as workers strike throughout Cleaveland, the U.S., and eventually the world. As the U.S. government declares war on its own citizens (even dropping nuclear bombs), Solley understands the stakes at play: Capitalism is destroying the planet and the future of humankind is in the balance.
Thematically, this is a powerful read. Louise explores numerous topics (including the fatal flaws of centralized governments, misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc.) but the overall character development is inadequate. This lack of depth—and general description throughout—creates an emotionally detached read. Additionally, the narrative structure feels more like that of a history book. While that works well to convey story specifics (such as the details of the new constitution), it adds to that detached feel.
That said, insight and nuggets of wisdom abound, as when a boy interviews his grandfather for a school project, and the old man offers up advice: “Study your history. People will believe absolutely anything terrible about people they see as alien and different from themselves.”
Readers who can overlook the narrative flaws will be rewarded by a thought-provoking glimpse into humankind’s potential future. Inherit the Earth is equal parts political and environmental manifesto, cautionary tale, and near-utopian fiction.
Also available as an ebook.