John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars is dystopian science fiction at its best, portraying the disintegration of human society from the perspective of a reporter, Susan, who sets out to interview the last survivor to have known the 'Earth That Was' before it was broken into twelve continents and changed forever.
What were the Microsoft Wars which caused such disruption? Apparently they were predicted by Mayan prophecy and as events are told to a reporter who gets so much more than she bargained, she decides to publish one John Smith's eyewitness report in its entirety - and is challenged by him to adjust her pat reporting style to more critical thinking in an approach that requires her to understand many underlying facets of the Wars and their outcome.
What sets this saga apart from other dystopian productions is its specific, methodical focus not just on events of mass destruction, but how they came to pass. By including the social and political structures that ultimately contributed to disaster, John Smith becomes a study in frames of reference - and by using the give-and-take question/answer format of a reporter's interview, its characters, events and worlds come alive. While at times this format seems weighty and the reader might wish for a story that juxtaposes the format with the usual third-person narrative style, it ultimately proves a powerful device offering more depth than the traditional story line approach could have provided.
What do Atlantis, rules of conduct, and Microsoft have in common? Read John Smith to find out: its thought-provoking insights linger in the mind long after the story is done - and that's truly the hallmark of a dystopian read that stands out from the crowd and eschews formula writing and pat predictability for a taste of something far more complex and richly satisfying.