Once When We Were Human by David Peter Swan
'Once When We Were Human' is inspired by Animal Farm, Brave New World and 1984. Justin the main character is a dog unconcerned as this Brave New World takes shape around him. As long as the working day is short and he can play his video games he's not bothered. If it wasn't for the protests from his wife Karen and her 'artistic friends' he'd gladly sip cocktails out in the back yard and give up all his rights. Heidi and Beauvoir are their academic neighbours who waste their time arguing about philosophical points while their best friend, Karl, a conceptual artist, keeps getting locked up for his absurdist performances. Karl is an antagonist to Justin. He has something Justin wants; fearlessness. Joe the Jew reminds us of a history we have forgotten and how the problems of the past can easily be committed again.
'Once When We Were Human' also draws parallels with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and looks at how a technically modern fascist society might use propaganda and education camps for citizens who protest and challenge the state. Sunshine Valley becomes a microcosm where the characters can experience what society would be like if we gave up all our freedoms including the right to being creative. Through the eyes of conceptual artist Karl we are shown a world without creativity and how this can affect us. Almost Heaven brings in the continuing argument about assisted suicide and how this could be misused during darker times to push away the elderly and the frail. Through Justin's eyes we are asked how much will we give up before we are forced to act?
'Once When We Were Human' looks at what it is that makes us human and what it means when we no longer utilize the extra faculties of our species to make a difference in this world.