By Peyton Marshall
In a lot of SF the future takes on an archaic tinge, mixing science with retrograde political developments.
That’s certainly the case in Goodhouse, which is set sometime near the end of the twenty-first century. We start with the premise that a genetic test has been developed that reveals the “biometric markers” indicative of a propensity for violence in males (women do not have this mark of Cain). Any boys who carry these bad genes get shipped off to a reform school (dubbed a “Goodhouse”), where they are made to atone for their potential sins through discipline and labour.
And so it’s back to the future in this story of a boy named James who is sent to a Goodhouse modeled after California’s Preston School of Industry. There are advanced monitoring devices and sinister Clockwork Orange-style medical experiments going on, but mostly it’s a Dickensian grind (the Goodhouse has a factory that makes cupcakes but the boys can’t even lick the icing that gets on their fingers!).
As life in this neo-Boys Town gets more dangerous, James starts to think about a prison break. Unfortunately, just outside the walls the fundamentalists are starting to rage.