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Literature / Humane Tyranny

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Humane Tyranny is a novel published in 2014 by James Penbar.

Fearing the ramifications of an overpopulated country, the government passed a law in which one person a night is selected to die through a random lottery. The people are outraged, but there's nothing they can do about it. Nero Restivo, a twenty-year-old college student, is the latest draftee and he would have died if the enigmatic Chelsea Shell hadn't come to his rescue. She introduces him into an organization sworn to take down the Population Reduction Act by any means necessary. But are their methods any better than that which they fight against? And can Nero trust his new comrades in arms?

Humane Tyranny can be found here.

Humane Tyranny provides examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: The Population Reduction Act has been repealed because there is no longer any government body to enforce it and Nero, Chelsea, and Tiffany are alive, as healthy as they have any right to be given the conditions and everything they've been through, and they aren't in any immediate danger. On the other hand, the country is in a state of anarchy and everything has gone to shit, "in some cases literally."
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Certain elements of the revolution see this as being necessary in order to put a stop to the Population Reduction Act once and for all, while other members wish to avoid this trope entirely and achieve their goals the right way.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Tiffany is the only one with any kind of aversion to profanity and doesn't swear at all, while everyone else swears a lot and thinks nothing of it.
  • Dystopia: One of the milder variants. The government selects one person to be executed every night to keep the population down; the people are allowed to protest and complain about this all they want as long as they don't actually try to do anything about it. There are references to law enforcement officials openly torturing civilians for information, however.
  • Just Following Orders: Anyone who is not employed by the PRA who is forced to help them out. Chelsea in particular has no sympathy for these people.
    • Of course she has shades of this as well during the first half of the novel, which becomes very apparent when Roy decides it's time to strike the families of PRA employees. In the end, she does turn on him and saves Nero and Tiffany.
    • Being mostly Punch-Clock Villains, those employed by the PRA would be operating under this as well.
    • Also, most of the cops who raid Bruce's house.
    • Nero actually has sympathy for this to some extent, though he does not fall under this at any point in the novel.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Nero is cynical and paranoid, while Tiffany is more the wide-eyed idealist.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: During the second half of the novel, Roy decides that it's not enough to save draftees and kill agents and decides to go after Earl Conway's family. Later on, Lucas decides that Roy was right all along.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: This is how Bruce, Nero, Chelsea, and Tiffany believe the rebellion should operate.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: One extra death per day is 365 per year, which is a drop in the bucket to the majority of real-world countries: Slovenia, population 2.1 million in 2021, had 18,000 children born in 2022 alone. This policy would only have any significant impact on the population of a micro-country like Nauru or Liechtenstein.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Edgar Geist, who strongly believes that the Earth would be better off after the extinction of the human race. Ironically, he still deeply cares about the wellbeing of his partner, Harvey Matheson, his protege Ray, and he never actually kills anybody at any point in the novel.
    • Ray and Earl Conway also count, though they are not as extreme as Edgar
    • And then there is Roy, the rebel leader, who wants to go after the families of PRA employees, and after he dies, Lucas wants to follow in his footsteps.
  • Younger Than They Look: It is suggested that both Edgar and Conway have been aged by the stresses of their jobs and so appear significantly older than they actually are.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: When the PRA agents start to speculate on the rebellion, they refer to the rebels as a terrorist organization. So does law enforcement. Most civilians, however, probably wouldn't see it that way.