Review of Under the Stone by Karoline Georges

One of the most exciting novellas I’ve read this year is Under the Stone by Quebec author Karoline Georges. The story focuses on a child born in cell number 804 on the 5969th level of a massive building containing all remaining humans in the world.

The child grows up both mentally and physically trapped by this cell while also learning to survive an abusive father and fearful mother, who are as trapped as the child and take their anger and disgust out on their offspring. The child's only escape — the possible movement of the incalculable amounts of concrete surrounding the cell and a crack which may bring about the ultimate transformation in the child.

This psychological and philosophical novella is beautifully written and reads like a modern-day version of George Orwell's 1984, presenting a claustrophobic view of life where society reduces humans to our most basic instincts and needs.

Originally published in French as Sous Beton in 2010, the novella was released in English a few months ago by Anvil Press, an independent publisher from Vancouver. I highly recommend people check it out. Under the Stone will definitely be on my shortlist of novellas for the major SF awards.

As a side note, I purchased the novella from Bakka Phoenix Books on a recent visit to Toronto. There was a misprint in my book and the staff at Bakka went above and beyond in making sure I received a new copy so I could finish reading the story. Many thanks to them. Be sure to check out their excellent SF/F bookstore if you're in the area.