July 2024

This Great Hemisphere

By Mateo Askaripour
Review by
Part political thriller, part sci-fi, Mateo Askaripour’s second novel, This Great Hemisphere, revels in the dystopian details of a world where invisible citizens live under the control of the visible Dominant Population.
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Mateo Askaripour’s second novel, This Great Hemisphere, is set 500 years in the future. The world is broken up into warring hemispheres, in which some of the inhabitants are born invisible and consigned to second-class citizenship (vizzers) while the manipulative Dominant Population (DPs, or dippies) rule with an iron grip.

Sweetmint, born invisible but imaginative and hardworking, is granted a highly sought-after internship with eccentric inventor Croger Tenmase. He encourages her scientific creativity, inspires her with obsolete objects like books and cameras, and teaches her to play tennis. But Sweetmint’s projects are shut down after a political assassination; the Chief Executive of the Northwestern Hemisphere is killed and Sweetmint’s long-lost brother Shanu is accused of the murder. Sweetmint is determined to locate Shanu, embarking on a quest that takes her far outside her community, forging new relationships and digging into the mysteries of her origins. Meanwhile, a power struggle ensues between ambitious politicians and ruthless generals as they vie to win the hearts and minds of the DPs in an upcoming election.

Part political thriller, part sci-fi, This Great Hemisphere revels in dystopian details with plausible roots: the ruling class controlling access to information, history and religion; the abundance of cheap processed food to keep the Invisibles in poor health; and the hypocrisy of the DPs between their pious pronouncements and secret sex clubs. At the same time, a secret Invisibles army, the “Children of Slim,” gains strength and power through collective knowledge of their shared legacy.

Askaripour’s breakthrough 2021 novel, Black Buck, was a wicked satire about a young Black man leaving his job as a barista for a position in a dubious tech start-up with cultish vibes. Similarly, This Great Hemisphere explores the allure of power and the lengths people go to gain and retain it, but it’s also a story about rebellion, resilience and the strength to shape your own future. It’s only when Sweetmint stops relying on false narratives that she can truly become the inventor she longs to be.

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This Great Hemisphere

This Great Hemisphere

By Mateo Askaripour
ISBN 9780593472347

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