From the title, we can guess that A Perfect Society is a series prequel. This short story sets the scene for an ideal world community. It is proposed that money will no longer be used. The currency for everyday transactions will be the worth of the individual to society. A person’s potential lifetime worth will be measured at birth and a value assigned by the government to everyone. The individual then will trade on his/her assigned worth to obtain daily necessities. But not everybody will have the same potential worth. As this story begins, it seems people of color are valued less.
Starting out as a YA novel, Persephone (Pepper) is in the fifth grade. At home, there is a barn where a friend of her father, Dr. Terry, works. Dr. Terry is black, the son of a man who was a soldier with Pepper’s father. Cort and Tuck had served together in Iraq where Cort had contracted a disabling disease due to chemical weapons. Tuck permitted Cort’s son, Dr. Terry, to conduct research in a barn behind his home. Dr. Terry, an MIT graduate, was doing genetic research, the kind of stuff that might affect values of social worth assigned by the government at birth.
The year is 2020. The government has finally passed a law institutionalizing the digital society, the perfect society based on a person’s predicted worth. Pepper’s personal life is terrible. She has no friends as all previous ones shunned her as the daughter of a family harboring and supporting a man whose research will disturb the new proposed society. Her only friends are two boys, one black and one white, who are in a romantic relationship. At school, the three sit at a table for the rejected as they suffer taunts based on racism and sexist intolerance. At home, Pepper’s mom has separated from the family. There are no friends or visitors other than Government representatives who visit to enlist Dr. Terry with Tuck’s help.
This short story ends with an unexpected event, a tragedy, and a surprise ending. It is followed by an excerpt from Skin Trials. I don’t usually read follow-on excerpts out of some contrarian reaction to being manipulated into buying a novel by the cliffhanger from the prequel. In this case, I am glad I read it. It carries forward but does not really explain, what happened in the prequel. I was quite happy, surprised, and intrigued by the unusual and well worked out premise to these stories. I will read further books by this author as they become available.