(Graphic Courtesy of World Weaver Press)
Murder in the Generative Kitchen
by: Meg Pontecorvo
Meg Pontecorvo’s Murder in the Generative Kitchen poses many relevant questions that in today’s society we seem to be scratching the surface of.
Technology is such a theme in itself. We, as a people, are constantly looking to improve and grow our technology. We keep trying to get technology to fill the gaps and the spaces in our lives that we feel are lacking.
A lot of what Pontecorvo does reminded me a lot of the show Black Mirror, but Pontecorvo is clever. She doesn’t make the central theme as obvious. She makes her readers work for it.
We open the book to a beginning of a trial. A woman is charged with the murder of her husband using the couple’s artificial intelligence kitchen.
We are meant to think the trial is the focus, that the novella is a futuristic Law & Order, but it isn’t. Far from, actually.
The trial is just a planet rotating around the Sun.
In this world that Pontecorvo has created, jury duty isn’t something that we desperately try to get out of. Jury duty is a paid vacation, where jurors are allowed to stay at a resort while listening to testimony. Honestly, the incentive to do jury duty doesn’t sound so bad when you hang a free vacation over my head.
It all seems too good to be true. An all expensed paid vacation while you stream the day’s courtroom arguments. In some ways, even in the book, it is too good.
Our protagonist, Julio Gonzales, is a man who appreciates the luxuries of life. His jury service intersects with his “break” from his partner Toni. The two seem like two very different people. Toni doesn’t seem like one for glam, according to Julio’s description. Whereas, he wouldn’t mind if she “looked nice” every once in a while.
On his relationship break/vacation, Julio’s time observing the trial is segmented by his fascination with a beautiful woman. However, the rules of the trial prevent him from speaking to other jurors which make it rather difficult to make a love connection.
The trial’s progression syncs up with Julio’s character development. The more he hears the two sides argues the more he doubts the woman committed the murder.
Pontecorvo wants Julio caught up in the hype of the process. She wants him just as invested, just as the reader is. She wants him to get trapped in the surface of the circus of what the trial’s defendant is drowning in. Pontecorvo succeeds in developing a sense of apathy from Julio that wasn’t as apparent in the beginning and makes the reader take a step back and assess the similarities in their own world.
Pontecorvo haunts readers (and Julio) as she lifts the veil of perception. She weaves a cautionary tale that in this reality: beauty and youth are only as skin deep as we can make it. That when you break it down to the bare essentials, surplus doesn’t necessary mean happiness. And justice, ever reliant justice, is a rarity even for the innocent.
Murder in the Generative Kitchen is published by World Weaver Press.